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Monday, July 7, 2014

Good and DeLISH Morning Rush Coffee Bites

Delish (Walgreen's) Morning Rush Coffee BitesI’ve often wondered why more confections weren’t made from roasting and conching. What would happen if you roasted and conched almonds or hazelnuts in the same way we make chocolate? What about coffee?

Since coffee doesn’t have its own natural oils like cocoa that are solid at room temperature, it only makes sense to add a dash of them to make a chocolate-like confection to create these Morning Rush Coffee Bites. These are from the Walgreen’s store-brand called deLISH, but I did see a review of a product called Coffee Thins on Candy Bar Review that sounds like it might be the maker.

They came in three varieties, I picked out the simplest version, the plain coffee bites (Elegant Hazelnut and Vanilla Delight were the others). There are 14 in the package, but the serving size is a little strange to decode. There’s 4.9 ounces in the package and it holds 3.5 servings. So a serving is 4 pieces. Though the package doesn’t say anything about caffeine, the Coffee Thins website does say that one piece equals a quarter of a cup of coffee. (I’m unclear if they mean an actual fourth of an 8 ounce cup and how much caffeine that cup had, as it does vary quite a bit but I’ll stick with the estimate that even eating the whole bag will probably not result it an overdose of caffeine. The front of the package is no help either, as it shows one piece equaling a cup of coffee ... though the cup is the same size as the chocolate piece.)

Delish (Walgreen's) Morning Rush Coffee Bites

They’re packaged just like a Ghirardelli Square. The pieces are about 1.6 inches square. The molding is nice, it’s a generic mold but a good thickness for biting and getting a nice aroma off of it while eating.

The ingredients are a little vague:

Sugar, Coffee Liquor (mixed fats & oils*, coffee) dairy solids, (whey powder, lactose), maltodextrins, soy lecithin, PGPR, natural vanilla flavoring, salt

The oils are a blend of cocoa butter, palm oil, illipe butter, shea butter, mango butter, sunflower oil and/or safflower oil. It’s also unclear if the coffee is the whole bean or brewed coffee. (I’m guessing whole bean.)

Delish (Walgreen's) Morning Rush Coffee Bites

The mouthfeel is pretty good. It’s not quite the silky melt of a good dark chocolate, but it’s passable. The coffee flavors are very strong and well rounded, more on the woodsy and cocoa end of the flavors than the nutty, toffee or berry notes that some beans have. The sugar is quite prominent, which is too bad, because I don’t mind a strong coffee. If it were less sweet, I’d be a lot happier, but when you remove sugar, it has to be replaced by something else. There’s a buttery, cream note to the whole thing too that I thought was a little strong for something that I didn’t think was in the milk drink zone. It’s a balancing act, if you take out sugar, do you put in more milk solids or more coffee? More coffee would make it much stronger, but that might not make it better because the bitterness or perhaps even the caffeine would be too high.

The end result is that I’m satisfied with these as a curiosity. I don’t see myself buying them again ... unless they were actually blended in with dark chocolate. However, if your a sweet coffee fan, these might be the ticket.

Related Candies

  1. Mast Brothers Stumptown Coffee
  2. Feodora Mocca’s Dark and Milk
  3. Meiji Corot & CoffeeBeat
  4. Jitterbeans vs GoGo Beans
  5. Javaz - Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
  6. Coffee Rio
  7. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
  8. Pocket Coffee
  9. Bali’s Best Coffee & United Coffee Candy

Name: Morning Rush Coffee Bites
Brand: Good and Delish
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $3.79
Size: 4.9 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Candy, Coffee, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:01 pm     CandyReviewCaffeinatedCoffeeKosher7-Worth ItUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (1)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Marks and Spencer Percy Pig

Marks and Spencer Percy PigThough most of the confectioners I was searching for in London were chocolate related, I knew I needed to pick up a package of Percy Pig Soft Gums from Marks & Spencer. It wasn’t hard to find them, as it was hard to walk more than three blocks in central London and not run across one of their food stops.

They’re described as Soft gums made with fruit juice. Made without artificial colors or flavorings. Though they call them gums, they’re actually gummis, as in, they’re made with gelatin. The texture is a hybrid between marshmallow and gummi.

Marks and Spencer came up with the idea for Percy Pig in conjunction with one of their contract manufacturers, Katjes, in Germany. Marks & Spencer wanted something fruity and foamy. The look of the candy was based off of the existing Tappsy panda-faced licorice line from Katjes. 

Marks and Spencer Percy Pig

The color is definitely close to what I’d call pig skin pink. It’s a light color that’s more like putty than actual artificial pink common in most candies here in the United States. The scent is rather berry-like, a little floral with a tangy sort of yogurt note.

The texture is soft and easy to bite, they’re not too tacky or stiff. The flavor is much more intense than the similar Haribo foamy gummis I’ve had over the years. They’re wonderfully well done, good tartness, good jammy berry flavors (strawberry and raspberry). The ears are a little more tart and less creamy (marshmallowy) than the face.

It’s a great product and I can see why Brits are so fond of them. There are plenty of similar products on the market now, but for a long time they really occupied a niche that was not well served by the existing candies available. I would love more flavor variations, but since I know that Katjes makes them, they have lots of other yogurt gums and other foamy gummi candies in their repertoire ... some also in amazingly cute shapes.

For some more history on Percy Pig, you can read up at this feature article on The Independent.

Related Candies

  1. Katjes Tappsy mit Schoko-Geschmack
  2. Sugarpova: Sporty & Splashy
  3. 12 European Licorices
  4. Katjes Tappsy
  5. Puffy Candy Corn
  6. Van Slooten - Autodrop Total Loss
  7. Katjes Tropical Gummis & Yogurt Gums

Name: Percy Pig
Brand: Katjes
Place Purchased: Marks & Spencer (London)
Price: £0.90 ($1.50)
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 96
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Katjes, Gummi Candy, 8-Tasty, Germany

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:27 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewKatjesGummi Candy8-TastyGermanyComments (3)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed Berry (Target)

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed BerryTarget has a variety of house brands on their shelves right now, though not that many in the candy aisle any longer. I did spot this new variety of little fruity chocolate morsels and picked up Simply Balanced Mixed Berry Fruit Juice Pieces Covered in Dark Chocolate. I don’t actually know what these are supposed to be called, since that sounds more like a description than a name. The brand called Simply Balanced is also new to me, the package says that its goodness guarantee takes the guesswork out of eating well.

As far as I can tell, a Canadian confectioner called Brookside invented the concept of a little antioxidant-themed jelly morsel covered in dark chocolate back in late 2010. They grew quickly enough that Hershey’s decided to purchase the company and of course knock-off versions have emerged over the intervening years. This version from Target has some interesting elements to it.

They’re made with Rainforest Alliance certified cacao from Ecuador. Though it’s nice dark chocolate, it’s only 60%. The package also calls them fruit juice pieces, similar to the language used by Brookside for their jelly thingies. In reality they’re jellies. They’re made from glucose, water, fruit juice from concentrate, citric acid, pectin and corn starch. So, it’s less fruit juice and mostly sugar. Honestly, I would mind something called dark chocolate covered fruit jellies (those already exist, and they’re usually raspberry or orange flavored and usually sticks). But this new genre of candy is trying to paint itself with the fine qualities of antioxidant rich berries, when the reality is they’re made from not just blueberry, pomegranate and cranberry juice, but also apple and lemon.

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed Berries

As much as I may make fun of their marketing materials, it is a list of ingredients that I could put together in my kitchen (though the end product wouldn’t look as nice). The pieces are large, like Peanut M&Ms instead of the smaller pieces from Brookside. The coats are not quite as smooth, a little dinged up, I think, from getting jostled around. But still shiny.

They smell a little fruity, with some woodsy notes of chocolate. The bite is pretty soft, the jelly center is springy and dissolves quickly. Some had a small hint of grainy sugar to them, but most were smooth. The chocolate is creamy and has a good, quick melt and soft bite. The fruity centers were tangy with a strong blueberry and cranberry flavor to them. There’s a light bitter note towards the end that reminded me of cranberries.

Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Mixed Berries

The pieces are easy to eat and a nice change from nut and chocolate combinations. They’re not innovative, but nicely done. The ingredients are pretty clean and the use of Rainforest Alliance cacao and labeling it as being made with non-GMO ingredients is a nice touch.

The candies contain soy and are made in a facility that also processes milk, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and eggs. (Too bad, it would be nice if these were at least free of some of the major allergens.) They’re kind of expensive at $3.59 for only 7 ounces, but comparable to the Trader Joe’s, Brookside and Brach’s versions price wise, but I actually prefer them.

Related Candies

  1. Brach’s Dark Chocolate Blueberry Acai
  2. Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate
  3. Necco Wafers SmartFruits
  4. Wonka Exceptionals Fruit Jellies: Grapefruit, Goji Berry & Red Apple
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Powerberries
  6. Nestle Cranberry Raisinets

Name: Mixed Berry Fruit Juice Pieces Covered in Dark Chocolate
Brand: Target
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $3.59
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Jelly Candy, 8-Tasty, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:34 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateEthically SourcedJelly Candy8-TastyTargetComments (0)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Peeps Minis Vanilla Creme

Peeps Minis Vanilla CremeJust Born has introduced a new year-round version of marshmallow Peeps. The new Peeps Minis are different in a few ways. First, they’re not packaged a tray, they’re tossed together into a stand up, reasealable bag. Second, they’re mini versions of individual Peeps, each Peeps is not a single bite.

They’re available in several different flavors, but the only one I can find here in Los Angeles right now is the Vanilla Creme Peeps Minis. The package holds on 3.4 ounces and cost $2.79 at Target. They’re part of this whole hand-to-mouth snacking trend, as they analysts call it, that I refer to as morselization.

The surprising thing about Peeps Minis is that they do fulfill a big hole in the candy aisle. There are no sugar crusted marshmallows. If you meander over to the ingredient aisle in grocery stores you’ll find starch coated Jet-Puffed and Campfire marshmallows, but they’re only rarely found in the candy aisle (usually in special displays for S’mores along with graham crackers and chocolate bars).

Peeps Mini Vanilla Creme

They do smell a lot like cake. A sort of butter flavored cake, maybe pound cake and strongly of vanilla extract.

Each Peep is pretty small. They’re about half the weight of a regular Peep (which is usually about 8.5 grams) at about 4 grams each. There are only 14 calories per Peep, mostly because they don’t weight much and are made from sugar and a little protein.

I like white Peeps because they have no artificial colors to get in the way of the flavors. They do taste rather cakey, like an Angel Food Cake in both flavor profile and actual texture. I liked them much more than I thought, though I still doubt I’d pick these up as a go-to candy, even in the summer. My biggest issue is the eyes, I can’t stand the little wax eyes on Peeps, I have to pull them off, which means that I can’t just eat them. They are an ideal version of Peeps to take to the movies, as the package is very quiet and of course they’re easy to share ... and would probably pair very well with popcorn.

It seemed like there was less sugar sanding on the, and because the package does a better job of containing the leftover sugar than the trays, they were far less messy. I don’t know how good of a job the zipper-top package does at keeping them fresh, I only had them for a few days, did not seal them and they’re still fresh. (But it’s a bit more humid in Southern California as were in our June Gloom weather pattern of low clouds in the morning.)

They’re gluten free and fat free (as if people have allergies to fat). They’re made in the USA, and may contain milk but have no other notations about allergens such as nuts. Since they’re marshmallows, they’re also made with gelatin and are not for vegetarians. There’s no specification as to the source of the gelatin, so I would guess it’s porcine.

Related Candies

  1. Party Cake Peeps
  2. Limited Edition Milky Way French Vanilla
  3. Peeps Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookie & Candy Cane
  4. Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows + Vanilla, Cinnamon Bun, Strawberry, Chocolate Royale, Gingerbread
  5. Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy - Chocolate, Vanilla & Strawberry
  6. Peeps Spooky Friends
  7. Peeps Mash Ups

Name: Peeps Minis Vanilla Creme
Brand: Just Born
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $2.79
Size: 3.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Candy, Morselization, Just Born, Marshmallow, 7-Worth It, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:17 pm     CandyMorselizationPeepsReviewJust BornMarshmallow7-Worth ItUnited StatesTargetComments (3)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Short & Sweet: Mentos

Though Mentos are a little less boring in the United States than they used to be, some of the most interesting flavors come from overseas.

Mentos Tropical Rainbow

I ordered a package of Mentos Tropical Rainbow from Japan (through Napa Japan, my new alternative to JBox.com).

The flavor array is interesting, you get just two of each flavor, they’re all lined up with the flavors listed on the package. Of note:

Passion Fruit - it’s a little bit on the metallic side. It’s quite tangy and has a sort of black currant note mixed with pineapple, but still a bit of authentic passion fruit flavor.

Mango - less peachy than some others I’ve had, but still not convincing. It lacks that pine flavor that many mangos have, it’s more like a very sweet peach crossed with pineapple.

Kiwi - a cross between green apple and strawberry. Kiwi is usually more about the texture than the flavor anyway, so a fruity candy that’s supposed to be a kiwi is at a disadvantage.

Other flavors included were also:

Strawberry - fresh and sweet, but less tangy than a Skittle.

Green Apple - tart without too much of the artificial note in the American green apple candies.

Grape - wonderfully round, tastes like a concord grape.

Pineapple - an incredible mix of tart and floral.

I can’t see myself ordering these again, but I do like some variety in my package from time to time ... still, I think the classic Rainbow Mentos suit my flavor preferences better.

Mentos Lemon Cola

Mentos Lemon Cola (also from Japan) are just a little more tangy than the Fresh Cola Mentos that are already widely available. I like the hint of zest and more intense flavor. It would be nice to see these in a mix, perhaps Cola and Cherry, Cola and Lemon and Cola and Lime all in one cola rainbow package.

Mentos Mintensity

Mentos Mintensity are available in Europe and are kind of like a Mint Rainbow, except that there aren’t just 2 of each flavor. Instead it’s like a sliding scale of intensity. None of the flavors are new, I’ve had them all in other packaging forms in the past. There are 2 Air Action, 2 Strong Mint, 4 Spearmint, 6 Mint chewy candies.

Overall, the Air Action delivers a potent mix of menthol and mint. It’s not so different though, from the Strong Mint, which is also sold as Xtreme Mint in Southeast Asia. Strong is, well, a chewy Altoid. It’s refreshing but doesn’t exactly burn. The Spearmint were very good, and just the right amount. The Mint are, well, the standard Freshmaker. If you start with them, it’s a nice progression, if you end with them, they taste kind of like sugar.

If you dump the package out, it’s hard to tell the pieces apart, they’re all white, grey or slightly tinted blue or green, but in low light situations, you’re not going to be able to tell.

Spearmint Mentos

My final item is that Spearmint Mentos are now available widely in the United States. The flavor has been popular in other parts of the world for years, including Australia and Europe, but not here. So it was great to see them at 7-11 recently. I’ve picked them up on Europe before, and tried the Xtreme Spearmint version before as well.

It reminds me of toothpaste but also has a good, fresh green tea note to it. They’re light green, so they do have some coloring to them, unlike peppermint Mentos. I’d definitely pick these up regularly.

As much as I like Mentos, their freshness varies. Unlike most candies sold today, they’re not sealed in plastic, but instead just wrapped up in foil. So, I do get about a third of my packages where the candies are quite hard, often brittle instead of chewy. They’re still edible, but not quite as good as the fresh and chewy ones.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:36 pm     All NaturalCandyMentosReviewPerfetti van MelleChewsColaMints7-Worth ItJapanNetherlandsComments (1)

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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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