Archive for May, 2008

Borrachitos from Crown Candies

May 16th, 2008 by Rosa

I recently had the pleasure of getting a candy sneak preview. Crown Candies sent me two boxes of their Borrachitos (Spanish for a little drunk, and a traditional Mexican treat, apparently). I got one each of their two available flavors: Tequila and Licor de Cafe.

Crown Candies imports these handmade candies from Mexico. They call them “gourmet caramel candies,” but, as I explained to David of Crown Candies, I find that a bit of a misnomer, as they aren’t actually caramels. Instead, they’re a soft jelly-like candy flavored with caramel (or dulce du leche, if you prefer) and liquor. The Tequila flavor is laced with Tequila (duh), and the Licor de Cafe with coffee liqueur (less intuitive if you’re unfamiliar with romance languages).

The borrachitos come inside a resealable plastic tub with paper dividers separating them from each other. That tub is then shrink-wrapped and packaged inside a box. The texture of the candy is hard to describe. It’s super soft and immediately gives way when you bite into it, yet there’s a slight chew to it, The white center is creamy and also soft. They’re covered in granulated sugar, presumably to keep them from sticking to each other and to add an extra touch of sweetness.

The Licor de Cafe had a lovely strong coffee liqueur flavor to it in addition to its caramel notes. I noticed an initial, barely perceptible mustiness to it, probably from the paper liner, but it wasn’t present enough for friends to notice when I shared the borrachitos. My band director proclaimed them to be “very good,” and he’s got a doctorate in music education (sorry; inside YUB joke).

The Tequila borrachitos (left three in below photo) were lighter in color than the Licor de Cafe flavored ones (right three below) – more golden than brown – and their mustiness was a little stronger, probably because they had a double-layered paper liner. David from Crown Candies assures me that they’ve stopped using the double layer and that they’re looking into plastic separators, so that should resolve that issue. He was so confident that he sent me a third box of borrachitos with the new packaging to taste, but I haven’t had a chance to get them yet because I’ve been out of town and without access to my PO box.

The Tequila borrachitos were also strong! They immediately taste of caramel, and then whoosh comes the alcohol flavor. I’m not hardcore enough to enjoy the Tequila flavor, but I think tequila lovers/hard liquor connoisseurs would enjoy it. The Licor de Cafe flavor was just right for me, with it’s slight but innocuous alcohol tinge. An O for the tequila. The Licor de Cafe isn’t something I would reach for as a casual snack, but I would indulge in a piece now and then and would offer it to company. It gets an OM. I wonder if Crown Candies has considered a chocolate liqueur version.

Borrachitos are available online from the Crown Candies website, and they’ll also be at the All Candy Expo in Chicago that’s going on next week.

Category: caramel, coffee, Hispanic, jelly candy, O, OM, review | 2 Comments »

Candy and Me: A Book Review

May 15th, 2008 by Rosa

I just finished Candy and Me (A Love Story) by Hilary Liftin. I give it an OM. It’s more or less a memoir tied to sweets, with each chapter linked to a different sugary treat, from Skittles to Circus Peanuts to canned frosting.

I was amazed at Hilary’s capacity for sugar consumption. As a kid, she used to eat straight sugar! And she has a love for white chocolate and those giant, individually wrapped pseudo-jelly bean/marshmallow thingies that I just don’t understand.

I love how she mentions obscure candies like Zotz along with more common treats like Smarties. And her husband’s method of proposing to her is ridiculously adorable. I also love her description of her wedding favors: little bags of assorted candies with a toothbrush, like the kind you get with your dentist’s name on the handle, only with the married couple’s names. Totally stealing that someday.

The book definitely has its weak moments, and overall, it’s quite fluffy. Basically, like candy full of empty calories and can cause stomachaches and nausea when overindulged in, but it’s also a fun treat. Hence the OM. Pick it up at your local library if it catches your eye, but don’t go out of your way to hunt it down.

Category: news | Comments Off

Russian Candies III

May 14th, 2008 by Rosa

For some reason, this post disappeared after I wrote it the first time. It was originally supposed to publish after Russian Candies I and II but instead published as blank nothingness (much to the disappointment of Leslie, who gave me the candy in the first place). Fortunately, I still have my tasting notes, so I can recreate the review.

Dove Bitter Chocolate with Lemon Peel and Coffee

I think Dove really needs to rethink the packaging on this one, as I noticed neither the lemon nor the coffee on the box. The coffee bean blends right into the chocolate, and the lemon looks like it’s just an extension of the yellow satin. What if some poor little Russian child or Russian tourist who can’t read Russian mistakenly bought this? He or she would be in for a flavor surprise.

All that being said, the flavor combination of chocolate, lemon, and coffee worked better than I thought it would. The bar had a crisp snap to it (and a slight bloom, but hey, it flew from Russia to Ohio to Texas to Connecticut. Stuff happens), probably because it’s quite dark, and little bits of grit from the coffee beans and dried lemon bits.

Upon first bite, the lemon flavor really smacks you in the taste buds. It tastes like super sweet candied lemon zest at first, then gives way to a coffee finish with a slight bitterness to it. It’s an interesting flavor combination that some of my friends loved, but it wasn’t quite for me. An OM.

Spartak Elite Dark Bitter Aerated Chocolate (72% cacao).

Leslie calls this one “exotic dictatorship chocolate” because it was made in Belarus. I really like aerated chocolate because it’s such a unique textural experience, and I was excited to try this one, as I’ve never had a dark aerated bar before.

The bar was quite glossy and dark. At first, it tasted quite dry, and unlike milk aerated chocolate, it doesn’t melt in your mouth very well. The chocolate itself was a bit on the sweet side for dark chocolate and had a slightly musty finish. Also an OM.

Category: aerated, chocolate, coffee, Dove, Mars, OM, received as gift, review, Russian | 1 Comment »

Junior Mint Giveaway Winners

May 13th, 2008 by Rosa

Thanks to everyone who entered. I love running these little contests, since who doesn’t like giving stuff away? The two winners of my Junior Mint Giveaway are (drumroll please)….

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: giveaway, news | Comments Off

Fannie May Chocolates – Part IV of Chicago Week + a day

May 12th, 2008 by Rosa

Last Wednesday, I gave an unenthusiastic review to many Fannie May chocolates but promised that I would review more of their candies today. At the Fannie May store I visited, they had bins of individually wrapped chocolates priced the same as the boxed assortments ($20/lb). I picked out a milk praline, a milk peppermint, a dark French mint, and a butterscotch caramel.

milk praline – Ooh! A thick and creamy milk chocolate coating sweet toffee bits and a praline center (hazelnut praline, I think?). I got lovely dusky notes on this one.

milk peppermint – a great combination of thick and creamy milk chocolate coating a mint center. It was like an Andes mint, but bigger and better.

dark French mint – unlike the milk peppermint, this looked like dark chocolate all the way through. A strong mint smell due to its strong mint flavor. The mintiness lingered in the finish, along with a slighty sugary note at the end. Though the mint was super strong, the chocolate was still noticeable.

butterscotch caramel – this caramel had a strong, buttery scent. It was sticky, creamy and quite butterscotchy, with a slight greasiness to the touch.

I liked these much better than the assorted chocolates I picked out myself. The two milk ones are worth an OMG, while the dark French mint and the butterscotch caramel get an OM.

Category: caramel, chocolate, mint, nuts, OM, OMG, review | 1 Comment »

Georgia Nut Bear Claw – Part III of Chicago Week

May 9th, 2008 by Rosa

As Chicago Week continues, yet another delicious confection courtesy of the Cobbs: the Bear Claw (and a similar looking product here) made by Georgia Nut (bottom right in a poorly lit shot; sadly the only photo I have of it).

The Georgia Nut Bear Claw is a serious candy. It’s ginormous, about the size of the palm of my hand. Since you probably have no idea how big my hands are, here’s another measure. The 1 pound box (they’re well priced at $10.50/lb, by the way) from Mama Cobb contained 6-7 bear claws. Also, it’s crammed full of caramel and pecans and smothered in milk chocolate. And finally, it’s good. Real good.

The pecan halves are fresh and crunchy, and their saltiness goes wonderfully with the smooth, well-tempered milk chocolate and sweet, gooey caramel. The caramel was possibly on the verge of being too sticky, but I was too busy licking it off my fingers to care. The Georgia Nut Bear Claw, like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, manages to wonderfully capture a perfect blend of sweet and salty. Even better, the Bear Claw one-ups a Reese’s on the texture front with its melting chocolate, oozing caramel, and crisp pecans. A would-be OMG that transcends the boundary to ZOMG! because they’re so ridiculously reasonably priced.

The little rectangular thing in the top left corner, by the way, is a milk chocolate English toffee square (I think; Mrs. Cobb bought these for me, and the Georgia Nut website doesn’t have a picture). It’s a dusky milk chocolate coating a sweet, buttery, cleanly cleaving toffee that I’d give an OM because the finish is too sweet. I write this lest you think I’m only giving rave reviews to my gifted chocolates to appease my chocolate giver. But I do love Chicago. See?

Category: caramel, chocolate, nuts, received as gift, review, ZOMG! | Comments Off

Hershey’s Bliss Coupon

May 8th, 2008 by Rosa

Missed the chance to throw your own Hershey’s Bliss party? Their website has a $1 off coupon so buy it for yourself at a discount. I’ve never tried Bliss (and did not get selected to throw a Bliss house party) and am not planning on going out of my way to do so based on this tepid review from Candy Addict.

And don’t forget to enter my Junior Mint Giveaway (helped along by wholesale candy store Candy Xpress) by 9 PM EST on Friday!

Category: chocolate, Hershey's, news | 1 Comment »

Fannie May Chocolates – Part II of Chicago Week

May 7th, 2008 by Rosa

The saga of my sweet-toothing my way through Chicago continues with Fannie May chocolates, who I would liken to Chicago’s version of See’s, except See’s is better.

At a Fannie May store, I picked out a selection of their chocolates and a few of their individually wrapped candies (review on those to come next week). Top down in columns, from left to right they are, as best as I can tell/remember: bittermint, some nougat thing, vanilla buttercream dark, no clue, buttercrisp, peanut butter, raspberry cream?, lemon buttercream, and a Trinidad. The salesguy assured me that there would be a comprehensive key online. There isn’t.

bittermint – this was a mint in the York Peppermint Pattie vein. The dark chocolate shell was quite thick, and the gooey mint innards had a strong mintiness tempered by a slight bitterness. The lightly bitter finish went nicely with the dark chocolate.

rectangular nougat thing – I have no idea what this is and couldn’t match it up to anything on their website. It was dark chocolate coating a chewy, nutty nougat log that tasted of maple, I thin.

vanilla buttercream dark – I’m not a big fan of buttercreams but let myself be talked into buying this one by Katie, who loves them. This was sweet and cloying but otherwise had a great vanilla flavor. If you have a higher sugar tolerance than I do, you’d probably like it.

buttercrisp – an almond buttercrisp in milk chocolate. I found it too be too hard to bite into and with a weird, not quite toffee-like texture (it didn’t cleave like toffee does).

peanut butter - a creamy peanut butter filling where the peanut butter was not nearly nutty or salty enough. The milk chocolate shell was slightly too thick for balance.

raspberry cream – I think that’s what this was. The chocolate shell was thicker than I expected, and the filling tasted strongly artificial with a slight cherry cordial winey-ness to it.

lemon buttercream - the center of this tasted like a lemon meringue pie. The lemon-ness was super bright.

Trinidad – I’ve managed to save the best for last: it’s a chocolate cream center with “pastel coating” and toasted coconut. The chocolate filling was smooth and creamy, and the coconut flavor was just right.  The only one I really enjoyed from the ones I picked.

I had wanted to buy some Mint Meltaways in my boxed assortment but the salesguy told me not to because their mintiness would overpower everything else. I managed to buy a little tray of 3 larger meltaways at a Walgreen’s instead. I tasted them after the Frangos that I so loved, and they paled in comparison.

The Mint Meltaways had a pastel green white chocolate coating that tasted too sweet and sugary. It gave the confection an unpleasantly greasy creaminess and a thick finish. The mint flavor was weaker than that of Frangos, and it was more artificial tasting.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy Fannie May that much. I liked the bittermint and Trinidad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek those out. An O for the chocolates described here. The individually wrapped chocolates I bought fared much better, and my review of those will publish on Monday.

Category: chocolate, coconut, mint, nougat, nuts, O, peanut butter, review, toffee, white chocolate | 1 Comment »

Junior Mint Giveaway!

May 6th, 2008 by Rosa

Joel from Candy Xpress, an online wholesale candy seller, sent me a big package of Junior Mints, Colombina Mint Balls, and Trident Tropical Twist gum. Quite the Xtreme care package for reading/finals period, I must say. I gave away lots and lots of the candy to my studying-addled friends, but several boxes of Junior Mints remain for me to give away to 2 lucky winners!

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Leave a comment with a working email address in the form (only I can see it, and I’ll only use it for the purposes of this giveaway) by 9 pm EST on Friday. I’ll randomly select 2 winners, who will each receive 3 (three!) 1.84 oz. boxes of Junior Mints.

Category: chocolate, giveaway, mint, news | 21 Comments »

Frango Mints – Part I of Chicago Week

May 5th, 2008 by Rosa

Back in March, over my spring break, I road-tripped to Chicago with my dear friends Katie, Chris, Rita, and Steve (who needs to get a blog or something. I’m not going to be creepy and link to his facebook page). Lemme tell ya, you’ve got to really love the people you’re road-tripping with, especially when you’ve decided to make a 17/18-hour drive in one day, and you’re driving a tiny little sedan that doesn’t comfortably fit 5. Chicago was our destination because that’s where Katie is from, and her parents were kind enough to take us in for a week. And they were kind enough to buy me candy, including a delicious box of Frango mints (I repaid the favor by buying them some chocolates at Haven’s… except Katie forgot to bring them with her when she flew home for Cubs opening day, so I still owe them one).

Frango mints have a storied Chicago history and are a sore subject for some Chicago natives who resent that Marshall Field’s was bought out by Macy’s. Chicagoans are quite proud of their city, and they should be if they are the home to these delicious chocolate mints.

I expected the Frangos to be like Andes mints or little peppermint patties or something. Instead, they’re chocolate all the way through. Rich, thick, creamy (like a thick, melt in your mouth ganache), dense, sinfully indulgent chocolate with a light smokiness and a great finish. The mint flavoring is just right; not too overpowering, but strong enough to assert its presence.

My 1/3 pound box had a generous 15 mints in it. I ate about a third of them and shared the rest, which were quickly gobbled up and praised by my friends. As I write this review and reminisce about the Frangos, I wish that I had kept them all to myself so that I could have another right now. Though, according to Cybele’s take on the dark version, they’re high in trans fat, so maybe it’s better that I spread the unhealthy deliciousness around. A solid ZOMG! Many thanks to the Cobb’s for introducing me to such a tastebud delight.

Category: chocolate, mint, received as gift, review, ZOMG! | 5 Comments »