Archive for March, 2008

Lee’s Chocolate Mint

March 31st, 2008 by Rosa

I’m always on the prowl for candies I’ve never tried before, and when I saw the Lee’s Chocolate Mint bar on the shelf at Randall’s, I snapped it up, along with a Jaffa Bar, which I haven’t opened yet. I’d never heard of Lee’s, a Scottish based food maker, before, so I was eager to see what they had to offer.

The Chocolate Mint bar is billed as “a delicious mint creme fondant covered in real dark chocolate.” Immediately upon unwrapping the bar, my nose was invaded by a super strong, minty scent that reminded me of a York Peppermint Pattie. Unlike a York, however, the mint filling was hard – so hard that it was nearly impossible to break in half, a fact my friends all commented on when they tried to break apart the remainder of the bar to share it amongst themselves. With enough muscle, the bar does snap and cleanly cleave like a piece of toffee, except that toffee is brittle and much easier to break. Once it gets in your mouth, the fondant softens and becomes chewy in a grainy sort of way.

The mint fondant isn’t nearly as strong as it smells. Instead, it’s super sweet with a minty feel but without much actual mint flavor. The finish is sweet, and the fondant got stuck in my molars. The layer of “real dark chocolate” that coats the bar is thin, bland, and rather grainy. It might as well be fake, as there’s so little of it and it’s of such poor quality.

I’ll stick with York Peppermint Patties for now. Like the York, the Lee’s is quite low in fat (3 g total, 1.5 g saturated) and pretty reasonable calorie-wise (230 for the whole bar, which is so hard that you’ll be forced to eat it slowly), probably because the bar is mostly sugar. It gets just an O, but it was good enough to make me want to try the rest of the Lee’s line, though I do fear for my teeth a bit.

Category: chocolate, European, mint, O, review | 3 Comments »

Whitman’s Soho

March 28th, 2008 by Rosa

I usually don’t finish the candy that I taste. Instead, I take a few bites and pass the rest on to friends, many of whom are happy to try my candy cast-offs even when my bite marks are on it. They’ll even polish off candy that I personally hated, so I almost never throw anything away. Note the “almost.” I found the Whitman’s Soho chocolates to be too terrible to inflict on my friends and tossed them after I tasted them. Individual, half-eaten chocolates aren’t that great for sharing in the first place, but I’ve done it before when the chocolates’ tastiness overrode the unappealing look of a chocolate with a bite missing. There was no redeeming the Soho line.

The “artist inspired” chocolates come in an attractive box, are prettily decorated, and have fancy sounding flavors: pear praline, sea salt caramel, madagascar vanilla brulee, pistachio nougat, cacao truffle, and raspberry ganache. Unfortunately, they all taste like blech.

The raspberry ganache, which I believe is the round dark chocolate one with the pretty gold swirls on top, had a creamy “ganache” that was way too sweet and tasted super artificial. I put ganache in quotation marks because the texture was that of a cream. I guess they called it a ganache because that sounds fancier.

The milk chocolate rectangle was pistachio nougat. It had absolutely no pistachio flavor, so I only managed to tell because it had little pieces of pistachio in it. A marvel of chocolate engineering. It just tasted generically sweet.

The milk chocolate square was the sea salt caramel, and the only one I managed to finish because it’s hard to make a terrible caramel. It is, however, easy to make a mediocre caramel, which was what this was: blandly sweet and chewy, with no saltiness, no butter or toffee notes, no anything.

I like my notes for the one with the white rounded top: “lemon – sharp acerbic lemon taste with horrific artificial aftertaste. Started out nice but EEK! Run away!” As you can see, there is no lemon flavored one, so I think it’s the pear praline.

The other flavor I was uncertain of was the dark chocolate rectangle. It was sweet and fruity with a slightly smoother, more flowy center than the others. I think it may be the Madagascar vanilla brulee. This one was okay, in that it was inoffensive.

And last but not least, the white, round chocolate with the flat top was the cacao truffle. Another inoffensively boring chocolate with a dry ganache and a slightly fruitiness to the filling that’s probably due to flavor mixing in the box.

I bought these for half off right after Valentine’s Day, and I still want a refund. I think we can extrapolate my notes from the pear praline and give the box a hearty EEK! Run away! They get an A+ for packing but an O (for offensive) for taste.

(Edit 10/25/09: Since my rating system’s changed, these now get a . But then I lose the lame joke…)

Category: --, caramel, chocolate, review, white chocolate, Whitman's | 8 Comments »

Candy Bar Madness Winners!

March 27th, 2008 by Rosa

Thanks to everyone who voted and participated in my Candy Bar Madness Contest! I really like doing candy-related polls, and if I can find the time to figure out how to easily integrate into my WordPress, I’ll start doing them more often. Because they’re fun!

Here’s recap of the polls and their results, with the winners in bold, culminating in the results of the final round! Drumroll please! Read the rest of this entry »

Category: giveaway | 4 Comments »

Abba-Zaba – Sour Apple

March 26th, 2008 by Rosa

Back in November of 2007, I reviewed the original Abba-Zaba and didn’t much care for it (and also spelled the name wrong). I did, however, note, “Apparently, the Abba-Zaba also comes in a peanut butter-filled apple-flavored taffy, which sounds intriguing. Apples, particular tart green ones like Granny Smiths, and peanut butter are a great combination, so the Abba-Zaba version sounds promising. I probably still won’t like it because it’s taffy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try it some day.”

I was oh so wrong. I absolutely loved the Sour Apple Abba-Zaba, have since chomped and chewed my way through two of them, and wish I had more. It may not sound like much for me to say that I ate two of something, but take a second and think about all the candy that I go through and have stashed away. For me to like something enough to not only polish it off all by myself but also go out and buy more of it, it has to be good.

The peanut butter filling is creamy, barely salted, and could be nuttier. On it’s own, meh. But paired with the bright green apple sweetness of the taffy and YUM! The flavor combination is a winner in my book. The apple taffy tastes just like a green apple Jolly Rancher, so it’s not actually sour. The sour moniker just differentiates it from the smoother sweetness of non Granny Smith apples, I guess. The taffy cleaves nicely when you break it, is pleasantly chewy when you chomp on it, and slowly melts in the mouth if you have the patience to do such a thing. I personally don’t.

I think the Sour Apple Abba-Zaba makes a great study snack. It’s not too unhealthy, must be eaten slowly, and tastes great. An OMG.

Category: Annabelle's, chewy, OMG, peanut butter, review | 1 Comment »

WashPost Peeps Diorama Contest Entries

March 25th, 2008 by Rosa

The winners and finalists for the Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest have been posted! Much adorable marshmallow-ness abounds.

And don’t forget to vote and enter my Candy Bar Madness contest, which closes today!

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Little Debbie Nutty Bar Singles

March 24th, 2008 by Rosa

I share Cybele from Candy Blog’s view that 100 calorie packs are a rip-off when it comes to candy but can be sensible in the case of other snacks to help prevent mindless overeating. Little Debbie’s 100 calorie Nutty Bars do not clearly fall in either category. On the one hand, you don’t really save that many calories from limiting yourself to eating just one of the regular Nutty Bars (155 calories each, but they’re wrapped in pairs). On the other hand, the 100 calorie portioned Nutty Bars and the regular Nutty Bars both come 12 to a box and cost the same, so at least you’re not paying extra for the pre-portioned packaging.

I have a special fondness for Nutty Bars because they’re one of my dad’s favorite snacks for fishing, so they were (and probably still are) always around the house. I agreed to review the samples sent by the manufacturer partly out of nostalgia. If you’re unfamiliar with Nutty Bars, they’re wafers alternated with peanut butter and covered in chocolate. They’re shelved with cookies and other baked goods, but they’re also nearly a candy bar (maybe if the chocolate coating was a bit thicker). The 100 calorie Singles are basically a scaled down version of the more caloric and more delicious originals. As far as I can tell based on memory, the Singles are the same dimensions as the originals, but the Singles bar is much, much lighter – 19g compared to the original’s 28g.

The lost weight and calories have come at the expense of the peanut butter and chocolate flavoring. The peanut butter flavor is present, but it’s quite light and a little too sweet, while the chocolate coating is barely noticeable and slightly greasy to the touch. The chocolate and peanut butter do complement the light, crisp wafers quite nicely. Though I miss the dense crunch of the original Nutty Bars, the overall light, airiness of the slimmed down version has its own appeal.

As a chocolate bar or cookie, these guys are too light on flavor to merit more than an O. As a sensible and affordable snack for dieters, maybe to help stave off chocolate or peanut butter cravings, however, I give them an OM for tasting pretty good, all things considered. I’m going to recommend them to my dad. Here are other takes from Chow.com, Chocoblog, and Sugar Savvy.

Category: chocolate, cookie, O, OM, peanut butter, review | Comments Off

Candy Bar Madness FINALS!

March 21st, 2008 by Rosa

In honor of March Madness, I’m running a ZOMG, Candy Madness contest! The original 16 have been whittled down to two: Reese’s Pieces versus Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Leave a comment (with your email address which will be hidden and will only be used to contact you if you win) guessing which candy bar will come out on top, and go vote for your favorite!

reesespieslicedhero.jpg

Three names will be drawn from the pool of correct guesses to each win $20 worth of Baskin-Robbins Gift Certificates. Baskin-Robbins has teamed with up Hershey’s to create 13 different ice cream treats (sundaes, shakes, cakes, and more) made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Heath Bars, Kisses, and York Peppermint Patties. $20 could buy you a lot of candy bar ice cream! Leave a comment (with an email address) about which treat you’re most excited about trying for a second entry in the drawing.

Voting and contest entry will close at noon on Tuesday, March 25. Winners will be announced on Thursday, March 27. Good luck!

Category: giveaway | 17 Comments »

Hershey’s Whatchamacallit

March 21st, 2008 by Rosa

Hershey’s Whatchamacallit is a bar that I’ve seen on grocery store shelves all my life but had never bothered to pick up, probably because I had no idea what was in it. While candy bars like Twix and KitKats had a strong advertising push during my childhood, the Whatchamacallit was neglected.

The wrapper claims peanut flavor crisp, caramel, and rich chocolatey coating. The bar was texturally wonderful with a crisp, sharp crunch. The crunchy rice crisps that made up the center of the bar had a salty, super nutty peanut butter flavor, and there was just enough caramel in the form of a thin ribbon to add the sweetness needed to balance out that peanut butter taste. Because the coating was marked as “chocolatey”, it’s probably not real chocolate, but it was a super thin layer, so the fake mockolate (Cybele’s term) did not noticeably detract.

A definite OMG for this bar. I wish I’d discovered it earlier. The only downside is that the bar is extremely high in fat (especially saturated fat) and calories, so sadly, it’s not a chocolate bar to eat on a daily basis.

Category: caramel, Hershey's, mockolate, OMG, peanut butter, review | 3 Comments »

Reese’s Crispy Crunchy Bar

March 20th, 2008 by Rosa

The Reese’s Crispy Crunch Bar is “made with chocolate, crispy peanut butter candy, creamy peanut butter, chopped peanuts.” Sounds fabulous. Also sounds quite similar to the Snicker’s Nut ‘n Butter Crunch, except the Reese’s version contained real,creamy peanut butter.

Upon unwrapping the bar, I was hit with a strong smell of genuine peanuts and peanut butter. Like in the Snicker’s Nut ‘n Butter Crunch, I was disappointed that the peanuts were unroasted and therefore rather bland. The texture of the peanuts was not noticeable against the peanut butter candy, which turned out to be some sort of peanut butter flavored toffee or brittle. Its texture was more crumbly than I expected, and I loved the way it broke against my teeth.

Overall, I think the bar could stand to be saltier, but the sweet chocolate finish isn’t too bad. An OMG for a tasty, if rather messy, bar.

Category: Hershey's, OMG, Reese's, review | Comments Off

Calhoun College Chocolate Tasting Notes

March 18th, 2008 by Rosa

My tasting notes, as promised. I loved how I was able to notice the subtle differences between the bars by tasting them all together. For example, when I first tasted the Scharffen Berger Extra Rich Milk, I thought it was sweet and yogurty. Tasting it right after the Chocolove Milk and the Papua single origin bar, the Scharffen Berger bar suddenly took on smoky qualities.

  • Chocolove Milk Chocolate (33%) – thick and creamy, coats the tongue heavily; vanilla and caramel notes
  • Nirvana Belgian Chocolates’ Papua single origin (35%) – dull and greasy looking, coffee smell, vanilla and yogurt flavor
  • Scharffen Berger Extra Rich Milk (41%) – dusky, smoky flavor, soft snap with a thick and heavy melt, lingering finish
  • Endangered Species Smooth Milk (52%) – earthy, pepper flavor
  • Vosges Naga Bar (41%) – a bit grainy with a great snap, coconut flavor
  • Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar (41%) – smells smoky, bacon bits give it a large grain, super salty bar
  • Vosges Red Fire or Oaxaca Bars (55%) – starts off sweet but the chili burn and the heat builds, a finish that lingers in the back of the throat
  • Chocolove Ginger Crystallized in Dark Chocolate (65%) – sweet, sugar flavor, light ginger and citrusy notes
  • Chocolove Strong Dark (70%) – earthy aroma, greasy texture
  • Lake Champlain Single Origin Sao Thome (70%) – sweet and fruity notes
  • Vosges Creole Bar (70%) – sweet start, coffee finish that lingers, a creamy melt around the coffee bean and nib bits
  • Scharffen Berger Antilles (75%) – my favorite of the bunch – a sharp snap on a glossy, dark bar, creamy melt, lingering finish
  • Lake Champlain Single Origin Tanzania (75%) – banana notes, thinner melt, unpleasant finish that’s buttery and lingering
  • Scharffen Berger Extra Dark (82%) – bitter tobacco notes with a slightly sweet finish
  • La Maison Du Chocolat Coro (100%) – bitter start, dries out the mouth
  • Valrhona Gianduja Noisette (no %, but super, super light milk) -super soft, almost like fudge at room temperature, quite soft, creamy, heavy, and thick with strong hazelnut flavors

Category: chocolate, Chocolove, Dagoba, Endangered Species, Lake Champlain, Scharrfen Berger, Vosges | Comments Off