Archive for March, 2008

Snicker’s Limited Edition Nut ‘n Butter Crunch

March 17th, 2008 by Rosa

Oh Limited Edition items, how you appeal to my candy blogger impulses! The bright orange wrapper on the Snickers Limited Edition Nut ‘n Butter Crunch (I’m fond of pointing out how Reese’s has driven us to associate orange candy bar wrappers with peanut butter) promises “milk chocolate, peanuts and creamy peanut butter taste.”

Peanut butter taste? That worries me. Why not just creamy peanut butter? It must be some horrid substitute made from oil or something. Yum…

I must admit that I’ve never been a Snickers fan, as I don’t really like peanuts that much. I used to hate nuts in things. Now that I’ve been candy blogging for a while, I’ve learned to tolerate and even enjoy eating nuts. But I’ve still never had the urge to grab a Snickers bar. I don’t even think I’ve ever had a standard-sized Snickers (just the mini versions), so though I felt that the Nut ‘n Butter Crunch was smaller than usual, I couldn’t be sure. It weighed in at 1.71 ounces.

First of all, this bar doesn’t live up to its name, as it’s not that crunchy. The peanuts are the only thing providing texture to the bar. It had a strong peanut smell, probably thanks to whatever provided the peanut butter tate. The milk chocolate coating was slight sweet and covered a thick filling of peanuts in a pasty… thing… that’s definitely not peanut butter, as its texture is not at all creamy. The Nut ‘n Butter Crunch was an extremely salty bar (14- mg of sodium), possibly due to the peanuts and the nuts. The sweet and salty mix of the bar works well, and the texture is pretty good as well.

I give the Nut ‘n Butter Crunch an OM. All the peanuts make it high in protein, and it tastes better than most of those supposedly healthy protein bars that are covered in chocolate and full of sugar. Maybe this is a candy indulgence that you can pretend is good for you!

Category: chocolate, limited edition, Mars, nuts, OM, peanut butter, review, Snickers | No Comments »

Candy Bar Madness Semi-Finals!

March 15th, 2008 by Rosa

In honor of March Madness, I’m running a ZOMG, Candy Madness contest! Vote for your favorites, and once the field has been whittled down to 2, 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! Here’s Round Three, the semi-finals!

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.

Poll timeline and contest details below. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: giveaway | 3 Comments »

See’s Milk Chocolate with Toffee Nuggets Bar

March 14th, 2008 by Rosa

I adore See’s chocolates. They don’t taste especially rich or indulgent, but they’re solid, delicious chocolates that are quite reasonably priced. If you have the pleasure to visit a See’s store, try their Scotchmallows and Scotch Kisses.

This See’s Milk Chocolate with Toffee Nuggets bar came in a care package for one of the boys who live in the suite that’s next door to mine. Lucky him! It was marked as a fundraiser bar, which makes me glad that I was never forced to sell them back in middle school or high school, as I would have certainly eaten them all.

The bar was made of sweet and creamy See’s milk chocolate with a buttery, cream finish. It was quite sweet without leaving that oh-so-lovely cloying feel in your throat. The toffee nuggets, about the size of a Tart-N-Tiny, are nicely dispersed throughout the bar. The toffee had a light brown sugar touch to the taste, and it had a crumbly texture that won’t get stuck in your molars. A well-deserved OMG.

Category: chocolate, OMG, review, See's, toffee | No Comments »

How to throw a chocolate tasting party

March 13th, 2008 by Rosa

Here are some resources that I found to be helpful for hosting a chocolate tasting:

I started my guests off with a mini-talk about the rise of fine chocolate and chocolate connoisseurship. We reviewed cacao percentages, what single-origin and fair trade and organic means, and discussed the similarity of chocolate tasting to wine tasting.

Next, I described how to properly taste chocolate with all the senses. First, look at the bar and describe the appearance. Next, smell the chocolate, especially where it’s cleaved, and note the aromas there. According to one source, the olfactory system is responsible for 70% of the tasting experience, and smelling the chocolate sets the expectations for the upcoming flavor experience. Then comes sound and feel, when you note the snap and texture. Finally, to taste the chocolate, place it on the tongue and let the chocolate melt and coat the tongue. Note the tastes, textures, and finish. Mmm…

My guests were all provided with copies of the Real Simple pdf grid and a list of flavor notes from The Chocolate Review.

I had an assortment of bars and truffles for people to taste, though for a personal party, I would recommend tasting only truffles or only bars. I decided to get people in the tasting mentality with truffles because their flavors are bold and easy to describe. If you do provide bars and truffles, you may decide to start with bars if you want to avoid palate fatigue. I also was unable to stop my guests from overindulging in the truffles (who can blame them? They were gorgeous and varied and tempting), which led to eventual chocolate overload for some of my guests. For the next Calhoun College tasting, I will provide fewer truffles.

We used unsalted table crackers, sliced granny smith apples, and room temperature spring water for palate cleansers. A little dish of unground coffee beans was made available for people who wanted to cleanse their sense of smell. Make sure your guests understand that the beans are not for eating!

I divided the 16 bars (for personal parties, I recommend choosing far fewer) into three flights and ranked them mostly by cacao content, with a few exceptions that took flavoring into account. Tasting went from lowest to highest cacao percentage or weakest to strongest flavors. I tried to place the particularly unusual and/or strongly flavored bars at the end of a flight. The Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar is a great talking point to end on (a little tip – make sure none of your guests keep kosher if you throw that one in the mix). After each flight, I had my guests discuss what they tasted, what they liked, and what they didn’t like, which also served to provide a little break for the palate.

All in all, it was a great success, and I’ve already been contacted about when to host the next one. Hooray for chocolate!

Category: chocolate | No Comments »

Almond M&M’s

March 12th, 2008 by Rosa

For some reason or another, I see Almond M&M’s as the forgotten M&M. Well, after Crispy, I guess, but those are no longer being made. For some reason or another, Almond M&M’s just don’t get that much attention, and I only recently got to try them. That was a shame, as I found them to be pretty good.

I was disappointed to find that there were only 12 M&M’s in my single serving bag. They were larger than milk chocolate or peanut M&M’s, but still, only 12? I easily polished off the entire bag, which then led to a good case of candy overindulgence guilt.

I liked the Almond M&M’s better than the peanut ones (which isn’t saying much, as I find peanut M&M’s boring) because they’re darker and crunchier. The almonds had a stronger, nuttier taste than the bland, unroasted peanuts found in peanut M&M’s.

Though the almonds were great, Almond M&M’s are not a candy you want to dissect into its separate components to eat. Instead it’s best when all crunched together so that the almond’s nuttiness can mitigate the sweetness of the sugar shell and milk chocolate. An OM.

Category: chocolate, M&M's, Mars, nuts, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Candy Bar Madness Round II

March 11th, 2008 by Rosa

In honor of March Madness, I’m running a ZOMG, Candy Madness contest! Vote for your favorites, and once the field has been whittled down to 2, 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! Here’s Round Two’s Poll.

Three names will be drawn from the pool of correct guesses to each win $20 worth of Baskin-Robbins Gift Certificates. Why Baskin-Robbins? Because they’re in the midst of their Candy Bar Madness promotion.

heathsundae.jpg

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.

Poll timeline and contest details below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: review | 4 Comments »

L.A. Burdick’s Chinese New Year Wooden Box

March 10th, 2008 by Rosa

I received a beautiful little wooden box of L.A. Burdick’s Chinese New Year truffles from my Associate Master. I thought the exquisite packaging, with the red ribbon and gold wax seal (the character, fu, is for good luck, though it’s traditionally hung upside down for the holiday) was because it was a special Chinese New Year’s box. A quick spin around L.A. Burdick’s website reveals that they sell their chocolates in the gorgeous wood boxes year round, making them unique and impressive for gift-giving.

I was struck by how tiny each truffle was. Most of them are thin (in other words, there’s not much height to the truffles), making them perfectly sized for tasting. I went through about a third of the box before sharing them and was able to rationalize my gluttony because the chocolates were bite-sized. They were all covered with a thin chocolate shell, and though they were little, they packed a big, flavorful punch.

The Chinese New Year’s box, which is no longer available, contains a special assortment of “Chocolate infused with the subtle and complex flavors of Asia. Featuring: Plum Wine Brandy, Lemongrass, Green Tea, Mango, Ginger, Cashew Sesame, Lapsang Souchong & more.” Unfortunately, there was no guide as to what was what, so I was left to guess at the various flavors.

I’m guessing that the middle left truffle topped with a strip of candied lemon zest is lemongrass, even though lemongrass only tastes like lemons. The ganache in this one tasted sweet and citrusy. Then again, it could have been candied ginger on top, in which case it would be the ginger truffle.

The square version of the knobbly cocoa powder dusted truffle also had a citrusy ganche. The other knobbly truffle, which was long and rectangular, had a sweet yellow liquid filling, like a cordial. Perhaps one of those knobbly ones were supposed to be the Mango?

The bottom left truffle is probably cashew sesame, as indicated by the sesame seeds it is studded with. I tasted it without realizing that it had cashews in it, so my notes declare it to be nicely hazelnutty. There was also a chocolate covered square truffle with a white ganache that tasted like hazelnut to me.

The most notable truffle was the flat rectangle (in the photo, it’s to the right of the mouse). It tasted earthy and incredibly smoky. It turns out that lapsang souchong is a black tea dominated by smoky flavors. The truffle works, kind of like how bacon chocolate works. And, like bacon chocolate, some people loved it while others hated it (there were several in the box, so I was able to share).

The final chocolate worth noting was the adorable chocolate mouse truffle, a signature of L.A. Burdick. The poor lighting in my photo really doesn’t do it justice. How convenient for L.A. Burdick that this year was the Year of the Rat! The entire mouse is covered with a super thin dark chocolate shell. The ears are thin almond slivers, and the body is comprised of a non-creamy ganache. I thought it tasted sweet and winey. According to the website, it’s a dark chocolate and orange ganache.

Overall, an OMG. I wish they came with some sort of guide to what each chocolate was like their regular boxes do. I got to taste some of the regular box at my college’s tasting party, so I’ll have notes on that at some point.

Category: chocolate, L.A. Burdick, OMG, review | 2 Comments »

Candy Bar Madness Contest

March 7th, 2008 by Rosa

In honor of March Madness, I’m running a ZOMG, Candy Madness contest! Vote for your favorites, and once the field has been whittled down to 2, 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! Here’s the first poll.

Three names will be drawn from the pool of correct guesses to each win $20 worth of Baskin-Robbins Gift Certificates. Why Baskin-Robbins? Because they’re in the midst of their Candy Bar Madness promotion!

reesespieslicedhero.jpg

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.

yorksundae.jpg

Poll timeline and contest details below. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: news | 9 Comments »

Recchiuti

March 7th, 2008 by Rosa

Michael Recchuiti is an American chocolatier who creates elegantly sleek and beautiful truffles. I stopped by his shop (also elegant and sleek, with a predominantly brown and gold scheme and employees dressed all in black) in San Francisco’s Ferry Building. His confections and boxed chocolates are extremely pricey, so I only bought two truffles from his extensive range. It was so hard to choose just two!

I definitely could have used help making my truffle selections, and I now regret not asking for it. The store was packed when I got there, and I got a snobby vibe because one of the employees ignored me when I was standing right in front of her and instead addressed the two well-attired gentlemen behind me. That kind of snubbing isn’t exactly inviting. I also would have bought more than just two truffles had I known that the chocolates are sold by weight when you pick them out individually, which makes them cheaper than when they come in prepackaged boxes. But because no one offered to help me, that was never explained to me.

I ended up choosing a honeycomb malt (left) and a star anise & pink peppercorn (right). I love malted milk balls and will eat Ovaltine malt straight, so I was excited about the honeycomb malt. It turned out to be a sweet, honeyed truffle filling with a soft chocolate coating. The filling looked a bit grainy but was actually quite silky. However, it was not as thick and creamy as richer ganaches are. The honeyed flavor of the filling was nice and smooth, but there was no malt taste that I could perceive, which disappointed me. If I didn’t know the name of the truffle, I’d give it an OM. Because it’s called a honeycomb malt and there was no malt, it only gets an O.

The star anise and pink peppercorn carried a slight hint of anise that sat nicely in the back of my throat. I don’t like licorice, so I found the light anise touch to be just right. There was a hint of pepper without any burn. No suggestions of pink (or if there were, I wouldn’t be able to tell, as I don’t know how pink peppercorns taste different from black ones). The ganache, like that of the honeycomb malt, also had a more liquid viscosity than most truffles. This one gets an OM.

I’m choosing to give Recchuiti the benefit of the doubt here because I wanted to like the shop and the chocolates more than I actually did. I felt pretty “meh” about the two truffles I bought, but those are only two truffles out of his extensive line. And even though I didn’t rave about the truffles I got to taste, I do recognize that they are well-crafted and of a high quality. I’m not going to make a special pilgrimage to California just to visit his shop again, but if I came across Recchiuti truffles elsewhere, I’d give them another shot.

Category: candy resource, chocolate, licorice, O, OM, Recchiuti, review | 1 Comment »

Liberty Orchards Aplets and Cotlets

March 5th, 2008 by Rosa

These Liberty Orchards’ Aplets and Cotlets were given to me by my friend Rita, who is from Washington state. In Washington, these are a locally made confection that probably takes advantage of the fruit trees of the state. If I ever get to visit her at home, I’m making her take me on the Liberty Orchards’ factory tour.

The Aplets (apples + walnuts ) and Cotlets (apricots + walnuts) come in a pretty box split in half between the two types. I love the logo design, with a apple as the O. On sight, the aplets and cotlets seem identical, but Liberty Orchards was thoughtful enough to include a decorative piece of paper that explained which half of the tray was which. There were 16 total confectioneries in my box, so 8 of each.

The aplets and cotlets smell lightly fruity. They’re basically a wonderfully smooth fruit pate/jelly candy with walnuts mixed in, all covered in confectioner’s sugar. The aplets had a light and subtle apple taste that tasted like genuine, real fruit – because it was made from real fruit. The cotlet, which was billed as tangy, wasn’t. In fact, I found it to have an even lighter fruit flavor than the apple. The walnuts were crunchy and mild, as walnuts should be.

I give these an OM because I find them too delicate and dainty for my taste. They’re a great, light way to finish a meal, but for snacking purposes, I’d prefer something with a little more OMPH.

Category: jelly candy, nuts, OM, received as gift, review | 9 Comments »