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Friday, March 6, 2015

Russell Stover Big Bite Hot Cocoa

DSC_8673rbThe new line of Russell Stover Big Bite candies are themed for hot beverages. I already reviewed the two coffee ones I found. Today I have the Russell Stover Big Bite Hot Cocoa.

The description on the front of the package says: fluffly marshmallow layered with cocoa-infused marshmallow surrounded by creamy milk chocolate.. I have to say that their picture of what the candy looked like was pretty darn accurate until I noticed that my layers were reversed.

The piece seems much bigger than the others, probably because of the airy marshmallow inside. This piece is 2 ounces, like the others, but is 2.25 inches square and .75 inches high.


Russell Stover makes a nice marshmallow, and make a lot of different kinds in all shapes and sizes. The interesting twist here is the layering of two different flavors. The layering is lovely too look at, though hard to perceive when eating. The bite was good, the marshmallow is soft, but not dry. The chocolate stuck to it well, so there were not little flaky bits, though after two bites pretty much all of the chocolate coating was cracked.

The marshmallow is sweet but has no real flavor profile of its own. It’s not vanilla, it’s not really chocolate ... maybe a touch of cocoa at times. The real flavor here is the milk chocolate coating, which is good. It’s very milky and melts well, combines well with the marshmallow. The marshmallow texture is quite sticky and not as fluffy as some others that I’ve had from them, more like a marshmallow sauce than a stand alone marshmallow. However, the texture of this marshmallow is much more like it would be if it were sitting on the top of a cup of cocoa, just a little melted, so maybe that’s the goal here.

Generally, the plain marshmallow and chocolate isn’t a stellar combination for me, unless there’s a stronger flavor note from the marshmallow itself. (See’s does a good job with their honey touch to their marshmallow.)

I liked this, but like the other Big Bite products, I find 2 ounces to be far too much. Russell Stover often has marshmallow items in their holiday offerings for Halloween, Christmas, Valentines and Easter. I don’t really see a need for a year round version in this size. Maybe if it had a little more flavor, or went for something like a Neapolitan (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry marshmallow) instead of just the chocolate & vanilla.However, if you are a fan of Russell Stover’s marshmallows and the little minis they now offer year round don’t do it for you, you’re just the right demographic for this one.

Related Candies

  1. Russell Stover Big Bite Apple Pie & Pumpkin
  2. Russell Stover Big Bite Dark Chocolate S’Mores
  3. See’s Marshmallows
  4. Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows + Vanilla, Cinnamon Bun, Strawberry, Chocolate Royale, Gingerbread
  5. Russell Stover Marshmallow & Caramel
  6. Limited Edition 3 Musketeers Marshmallow
  7. Peeps Milk Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow
  8. Russell Stover Marshmallow Rabbits

Name: Big Bite Hot Cocoa
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Glendale)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 115
Categories: Candy, Russell Stover, Chocolate, Marshmallow, 6-Tempting, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:02 pm     CandyReviewRussell StoverChocolateMarshmallow6-TemptingUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (1)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Candyology 101 - Podcast Episode 9 -  House Brands


In this episode of Candyology 101, Maria and I talk about house brands. You know, generics or downmarket clones of popular candies.

You can download the file directly: MP3.

Here’s a quick review to go with the podcast.

In preparation for the episode, I picked up the 99 Cent Only Store version of the popular Mars candy bar array. The cross sections are shown in the image above. They’re all packaged by Momentum Brands in Turkey. Though the wrappers said that they were milk chocolate covered candy bars, the milk chocolate actually contained dairy whey, which is considered a filler in the United States and cannot be labeled chocolate here. In general whey is used in place of extra sugar in cheaper milk chocolate. Think about it, if you want to make an inexpensive chocolate, you’re going to use as little of the most expensive ingredient as you can. So the cacao content (not even listed) is probably not more than 20%. Then there’s milk, which is usually milk fat and milk powder (which includes both the milk proteins and milk fats) ...and sugar. Too much sugar and the chocolate is unappealing and too much milk fat and the chocolate won’t set. So, milk protein does nicely as a filler that has a slightly malty flavor but is generally benign.

Choco Coco (Bounty) are like Almond Joy without the almonds. The coconut was very firm, but thankfully not that sweet. The milk chocolate has an odd malty flavor to it and a sort of “vitamin” note. Overall, satisfying for a cheap candy ... there were three little bars in the package for 60 cents.

Choco Duo (Twix) - This was a smaller package instead of the king size versions of the others. The sticks smelled malty and sweet. The biscuit base was very hard with a sort of graham cracker or digestive note to it, instead of the exceptionally bland version in the US Twix. The caramel was quite stiff but ultimately chewy ... much chewier than a Twix. The texture of the whole was more within my preferences than actual Twix. But it still isn’t in my arena of candy bars.

Coco Nut (Snickers) were also a king sized package that had two not-quite-full-sized bars. Mine were bloomed (all others were shiny) and I noticed right away that they’re much flatter than Snickers. The ratios are completely off and the peanuts taste foreign, as if they’re a different variety from the US bars. It’s not very peanutty, the caramel and nougat had the same chew ... it was fine for eating, but did not scratch the same itch that a fresh Snickers does.

Coco Nougat (Milky Way) is not at all like a Milky Way. This is actually more like the Milk Munch (also make in Turkey) that I had years ago. Very malty, a little too stiff and not fluffy enough.

I’ll stick to paying full boat for my Mars family of bars, especially when for a similar price, the 99 Cent Only Store sells those snack package with 6 or 8 little bars for a dollar anyway.

Don’t forget you can check out the show notes for Candyology 101 and my previous “Designer Imposter” reviews.

Related Candies

  1. Good and DeLISH Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds
  2. Walgreen’s Good and Delish Milk Chocolate Cornflake Clusters
  3. Head to Head: Haviland Thin Mints vs. Maxfield’s Cream Sticks
  4. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Powerberries
  5. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
  6. Head to Head: Milky Way & Mars (Canada & UK)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:20 pm     CandyCaramelChocolateCoconutMockolateNougatPeanuts5-PleasantTurkeyHighlightRadio Interviews99 Cent Only StoreComments (3)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Eat with your Eyes: Jelly Belly Malted Milk Eggs


I got a sample bag of Jelly Belly Malted Milk Pastel Eggs last month and promptly ate them after taking their picture.

I’ve reviewed the Jelly Belly Easter mix before, so this isn’t a re-review. I do have to note, though, that the crunchy coating was lightly flavored. So it seemed like the green ones were lightly lime and the pink ones were lightly berry. Odd ... I don’t really need an extra flavor, though it didn’t stop me from eating them.

I’m posting this mostly because Brach’s Fiesta Eggs are back on shelves and changed once again. Brach’s has gone through many owners in the past 10 years, and the recipes for many of their iconic candies have changed multiple times. I haven’t found the 2015 variety, but I can attest that the 2014 variety was far too big for the mouth and the shell far too hard for cracking easily to bite.

Brach’s Pastel Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs - 2007 Review
Brach’s Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs (White with Speckles) - 2011 Review
Brach’s Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs (Large White with Speckles) - 2012 Review


Jelly Belly are far more expensive than the Brach’s version, but at the very least they use a good quality chocolate and I do enjoy the malted center very much.

Related Candies

  1. Sugarfina: The Chocolates
  2. Brach’s Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs (2012)
  3. Brach’s Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs
  4. Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Malted Milk Eggs (Plus a Bonus)
  5. Brach’s Fiesta Eggs
  6. Jelly Belly Deluxe Easter Mix
  7. Jelly Belly Chocolate Malt Balls

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:56 pm     CandyMaltHighlightPhotographyComments (1)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Suss Pecan Maple Caramels

DSC_8512rbAt the Fancy Food Show last month I ran across another small-batch caramel maker. This one is called Suss Sweets. They’re based in New Hampshire and have a line of caramels with an interesting package idea - the caramels are sold in long logs, not individual pieces. So a standard roll is 1/4 of a pound. You slice off however much you want.

I found them at an Italian deli at Americana at Brand mall in Glendale. I had to go through the entire basket of caramel logs to find the only Maple Pecan one, since it was the flavor that I sparked the most with at the show.

There’s a lot of packaging for what looks so simple. The outside is a piece of baking parchment, twisted at the ends with a little sleeve with the label on it. Inside is a box, embossed with the logo (kind of a waste, I didn’t notice this touch until I was throwing it out). Then inside the box, the caramel roll is wrapped in wax paper.

Real maple syrup adds lovely richness to this caramel. A hint of sea salt and crunchy pecans top off this great salty/sweet flavor combination.

Suss Pecan Maple Caramels

The long log was easy to slice into appropriate pieces. The nuts were not as numerous as I’d hoped, so some slices were nutless. However, the maple and pecan flavor was throughout the entire bar. The chew of the caramel was smooth with excellent toasted sugar and fresh butter notes. The salt touch was quite light, enough to balance the sweetness but not so much to make me grab a glass of water. The nuts were fresh and the pecan flavors went very well with the woodsy and vanilla maple notes.

The bar was expensive at $7.50, but of course it was a quarter of a pound. But the fact that they’re not ready to eat meant we couldn’t just try them with our coffee at the store, we had to wait until we got home and got out a knife.

Suss Caramels

I did get to try the full range of flavors, including Pumpkin Seed and the straight Vanilla with Sea Salt. It’s a good caramel, just like I make at home when I have the time and the weather cooperates. It’s a fun item if you’re putting together a gift basket, especially if it’s a themed with coffee, cheese or other sweets. The fact that you can control the size of the pieces will appeal to some consumers, but I think I just want mine individually wrapped.

Name: Pecan Maple Caramels
Brand: Suss Sweets
Place Purchased: Deluca Deli (Glendale)
Price: $7.50
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 115
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Caramel, Nuts, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:34 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewCaramelNuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (1)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Honey Acres Chocolate and Orange Patties

DSC_8231rbHoney Acres in Wisconsin has been keeping bees since 1852. They sell a variety of honeys as well as some very specific honey-based products. I picked up these samples from the Fancy Food Show last month.

One of the lines Honey Acres makes are honey patties which feature an unsweetened chocolate coating around a creamed honey center. This may sound familiar, as I’ve reviewed the Trader Joe’s Mint Honey Patties before. Honey Acres actually makes three varieties of honey patties: the traditional mint, orange and chocolate.

The creamed honey is just honey, that’s been carefully recrystallized in a way that makes it milky looking, spreadable and thick, instead of clear and viscous. There are no additional ingredients, no dairy associated with the creaming process.


The most intriguing of their three patties is the Honey Kissed Dark Chocolate Cocoa. There are two ingredients: chocolate and honey. It’s a little more complicated than that. The chocolate shell is unsweetened chocolate and then the center is honey creamed with unsweetened chocolate.


The pattie comes in a matte gold foil. Snapped in half, the center is a golden brown, set off nicely by they very crisply tempered chocolate.

It’s a very strong chocolate product. The honey melts at a different rate from the chocolate on the outside, so it’s an uneven mix of the honey flavors, the sweetness, the creaminess and then the bitter pop of the chocolate. It’s quite rich and the recommended serving of 3 pieces is very filling. I enjoyed eating them in different ways, sometimes nibbling the chocolate edges so that I had more of a honey proportion for a big bite of the center. Mostly I bit in half and let it all melt together.

Ultimately, I think I prefer a little flavor with it, the chocolate in the honey center did little more than just make the honey less pronounced.


The Honey Kissed Dark Chocolate Orange patty uses Valencia orange extract in the center instead of the peppermint oil for flavoring. This is an interesting combination, because I think that the citrus flavors go far better with honey than peppermint. The oily beeswax feeling on the tongue is cut but the vibrant orange oil. The bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate really shines through all this, with lots more woodsy notes than I noticed when combined with mint.

The calorie count on the website for Honey Acres listed them as about 11 grams a piece and only 110 calories per 3 piece serving. I don’t think that’s quite right, because it works out to less than 100 calories per ounce, which is not possible for a candy that’s also half fat. So, I’d prefer to go with the accounting for the Trader Joe’s which says 140 calories for 3 patties.

Related Candies

  1. Droga Money on Honey Caramels
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints
  3. Honees Honey Filled Drops
  4. Gimbal’s Honey Lovers
  5. Jelly Belly Honey Beans
  6. Melville Candy Company Honey Spoons

Name: Honey Kissed Dark Chocolate Cocoa
Brand: Honey Acres
Place Purchased: Samples from Honey Acres
Price: $8.50
Size: 6.25 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Kosher, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:53 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateKosher8-TastyUnited StatesComments (3)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





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These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Part 1

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice