Archive for August, 2008

Cadbury Chomp and Fudge

August 18th, 2008 by Rosa

With the weakness of today’s dollar abroad, it’s nice to know that some overseas candies remain affordable. Cadbury’s Chomp and Fudge may be small, but they’re reliably priced right on the wrapper at 15p (about 30 cents). And, as a bonus, they come with built in portion control!

The Chomp is a small flat log of chocolate covering caramel. If I remember correctly, it’s about the size of a Twix finger, just flatter. For some reason, I expected the insides to be a smooth, liquidy caramel, I think because I got used to sticky caramel being described as toffee in the U.K. The caramel inside the Chomp was quite stiff and thick. It was sticky but doesn’t stick to your teeth.

I found the caramel to be meh on flavor. The chocolate was pretty meh too, which surprised me. I vastly prefer Cadbury’s dairy milk to Hershey’s as it has a nice creamy dairy finish to it, but the chocolate on the Chomp just didn’t do anything for me. The whole bar reminded me of a U.S. Milky Way – the texture of the Chomp’s caramel approximates that of the mix of nougat and caramel in a Milky Way. An O for mediocrity, though it’s tiny size and price tag makes it a great impulse purchase.

The Cadbury Fudge has a pretty self explanatory name. It’s chocolate fudge covered in a thin layer of chocolate, also in log form. The chocolate layer was so slight that it was completely overshadowed by the fudge. As for the fudge, it was soft of cocoa flavored but tasted mostly of sugar. I don’t like fudge because I find waaay too sweet, but I was pleasantly surprised that the Cadbury Fudge wasn’t as whomp you over the head sugary as I had expected. It still gets just an O, but it could have been worse.

Category: Cadbury, caramel, chocolate, European, O, review | 3 Comments »

Jelly Bean Factory Gourmet Beans

August 15th, 2008 by Rosa

Speaking of Jelly Bellies, I had bought two small boxes of duty-free Jelly Bellies on my flight to England to give as hostess gifts. Though I saw them at John Lewis, a high-end U.K. department store, and sold with a Marks and Spencer’s stamp at, you guessed it, M&S, none of my Jelly Belly recipients had heard of them. It seems that Jelly Belly has a bit more work to do before they can crack the U.K. market, yet they already have a knock-off competitor in The Jelly Bean Factory’s Gourmet Beans.

These beans come in 36 flavours (to Jelly Belly’s official 50) and include many of Jelly Belly’s favorites (or favourites) like buttered popcorn, pink grapefruit, pina colada, and tangerine. There are also a few flavours that were less derivative, such as cranberry & apple, mint sorbet, and passion fruit.

I’m not going to review each individual flavor, as that would take forever, and the Jelly Bean Factory’s guide isn’t as clear as Jelly Belly’s sheets so it can be hard to tell what the different beans are. Overall, I found the Jelly Bean Factory’s beans to be inferior to the real deal. They were better than generic jelly beans, but the depths of the flavors in the shell and the jelly insides just don’t quite come up to snuff.

They do make a beautiful spectrum though. I bought these in a tube (as far as I can tell, these only come all mixed-up in a big bag or tub or tube) and had great fun sorting them by color. A few flavours stand out in my mind, so I’ll dwell on those.

Pink grapefruit was lovely, tart, and sweet. Grapefruit is too rarely used as fruit candy flavoring, I think. South Seas kiwi wasn’t as good as Jelly Belly’s kiwi. With Jelly Belly, you can almost taste the kiwi fuzz. With the Jelly Bean factory, I don’t know if I could have determined what flavor it was without looking.

Buttered popcorn in the Jelly Bean Factory mix was pretty good. I guess if you’re going to copy such an unusual and iconic flavor, you should make sure you do it right. I wonder if I could taste the difference between the Factory and the Jelly Belly in a blind taste test.

Licorice made me mad. It was actually a deep blue-purple rather than a genuine and opaque black, so I kept eating them thinking they would be a fruit flavor and spitting them out again. Mint sorbet was also strange, mostly because it stood in such shocking flavor contrast to everything else.

I’d buy these again if they came nicely separated by trays so I could really taste them carefully and know what I’m eating, though that would deny me the fun of sorting them by color. But the desire to retaste is fueled by curiosity rather than desire, so they get an O. When faced with a choice between these and Jelly Bellies, it’s Jelly Bellies all the way.

Category: jelly candy, O, review | 1 Comment »

Jelly Belly Dream Bean Contest – voting starts tomorrow

August 14th, 2008 by Rosa

Remember the Jelly Belly Dream Bean Contest from back in July? Tomorrow they’ll reveal the five finalists in the running to become the next Jelly Belly flavor. Make your voice heard and vote for your favorite.

Category: Jelly Belly, news | 2 Comments »

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Segsations

August 13th, 2008 by Rosa

For most Americans, Terry’s Chocolate Orange is associated with Christmas. Or at least, for me it is. I think they used to run an ad campaign during that time with the tagline of “whack and unwrap” that marketed them as stocking stuffers or something. In the U.K., they’re more ubiquitous and comes without the holiday associations. I found Segsations, individually wrapped chocolate orange segments in a variety of flavors, in my aunt’s parlor. And, of course, I promptly stole one of each.

The Segsations come in five variations. Dark blue is “magically milky,” light blue is “crackingly crispy,” yellow is “corkingly crunchy,” red is “devilishly dark,” and orange is “happily honeycombed.” Terry’s clearly wants to make it known that they have mad alliteration skillz.

Magically milky is “delicious milk chocolate flavoured with the essence of real juicy oranges.” I’m assuming these are the standard chocolate orange chocolate segments. They were a quite soft milk chocolate and were lightly tinged with artificial orangeyness. A bit too sweet for my liking.

Happily honeycombed are “milk Terry’s chocolate orange studded with crunchy honeycomb flavour bits.” They had noticeable chunks of something that added a nice honey flavor. I doubt it was actual honeycomb, but it was still nice enough.

I thought Devilishly Dark would be dark chocolate tinged with orange. Not quite. Instead they are, as Terry’s put it in British terms, “a milk chocolate top sitting on a cheeky dark chocolate bottom.” I couldn’t taste much difference between this and the regular milk segment, so it seems that the devilish dark is more appearance than substance.

The Cracklingly Crispy, overturned in the above photo, is “packed with lovely light and crispy puffed rice bits.” As you can see, they are indeed pretty packed in there, and the bits do a good job of tempering the sweetness of the milk chocolate and adding a bit of textural pizazz.

Finally, the Corkingly Crunchy, “secretly embedded with little crushed cornflake bits.” Cornflakes as chocolate mix-ins are pretty much unknown in the U.S., and this segment makes it pretty clear why. The bits of cornflake are tiny, flavorless, and barely make a dent in the texture. A little too secretively added, I think.

I didn’t find any of the Segsations to be especially noteworthy or exciting. When I had a Terry’s chocolate orange for the first time, the combination of chocolate and orange was a novelty, and I thought the chocolate orange was a wonderous creation. Since I started candy blogging, I’ve had chocolate and orange done much better (I’ve got a Lindt Excellence Intense Orange waiting in my stash that I’m eager to try).

An O for the Segsations. They’re not bad, and they may make a good “I went to England and brought you this” gift, but I have no desire to try them again.

Category: chocolate, European, O, review | 4 Comments »

If I could find a man made of chocolate…

August 12th, 2008 by Rosa

Adfreak blogs about a new rather trippy Hershey commercial. The charming commercial, which can be seen on  YouTube here (I wish I could figure out how to embed YouTube videos on my site without screwing up the formatting) features people made of chocolate tooling around their chocolate world. It reminds me a little of that episode of the Simpsons where Homer ends up in a world where everything, including the people, are made of edible candy.

Category: news | No Comments »

Riesen

August 11th, 2008 by Rosa

Riesen are one of those candies that I’d often seen on store shelves and in commercials but had never bothered to try. When I was in England on my toffee binge, I saw these under the counter and thought it was time I gave them a shot. It helped that they came in a small candy bar-sized portion rather than in the bigger peg bag version I was more used to seeing in the U.S. I should’ve known that a candy made by Storck (they also make Toffifay and Mambas but are probably most famous for Werther’s Originals) would be pretty good.

Riesens are chocolate-flavored caramels (or toffee, in Brit-speak; because I bought mine in Britain, I shall refer to them as toffees) covered in chocolate. The chocolate coating, which could have gone horribly wrong and been made of fake vegetable oil chocolate, was lovely, dark, and rich. The chocolate-flavored toffee inside was just the right blend of creamy and chewy and sticky. It managed to glue my teeth together a bit, but none of it got stuck in the nooks and crannies of my mouth, so no embarrassing post-candy teeth picking necessary. I have no idea how Riesen got their toffee texture teased to perfection, but it was wonderful.

The flavor of the toffee inside was quite nice – a round, mellow cocoa – but wasn’t anything revolutionary. What really sold me on the Riesen’s was the texture, which can be so crucial for creating a candy that constantly surprises the tongue and makes one want to reach for more. I polished off my pack super quickly; thus, Riesen get a ZOMG! from me, coupled with a tinge of regret for my not having discovering these sooner.

If you want a second and third opinion, check out reviews from Cybele at Candy Blog and Jamie at Candy Addict.

Category: caramel, chocolate, review, Storck, ZOMG! | 3 Comments »

Mars Revels

August 8th, 2008 by Rosa

I thought I’d follow up Wednesday’s review of Mars Planets with a review of Mars Revels, a similar UK offering. Revels are like the Planets in that they’re chocolate covered spheres (more or less) with various fillings. While Planets had nougat, fake malt, and caramel, the Revels are filled with caramel, raisin, orange, coffee, chocolate, and real malt. The malt ones are billed as Malteasers, so I knew I wouldn’t get duped with plain cookie again.

So how do the Revels fare in comparison to the Planets? As disappointing as I found the Planets, at least they weren’t as off-putting as Revels are. The Malteasers in the Revels are delightful – crisp, airy, and malty – but everything else gets a big thumbs down.

The chocolate Revels are fat little disks made of cloying chocolate. For some reason I can no longer remember, I also wrote “coal” down in my tasting notes. I don’t know why that’s there, but I can’t thing of any way the note “coal” can be taken positively.

The caramel Revels are worse than the caramel Planets. At least the latter had a passable texture. The caramel Revels are hard and nasty. It’s hard to tell, but in the photo below, it’s the third one from the left on the top row. See the total lack of caramel stickiness? Blech.

The orange and coffee ones were the same size and impossible to tell apart before tasting. They’re also hard to tell apart on sight from a cross section. I believe orange is the one in the bottom right corner, while coffee is immediately to its northwest. The inside of the orange Revel is unnaturally neon, while the coffee is strangely pale. The insides of both are powdery and grainy, and their tastes reflect their appearance. The orange is unnaturally artificial, and coffee is bland and fake.

Raisin, the smallest Revel, doesn’t taste of raisin at all. The poor quality chocolate overwhelms any fruitiness the raisin may have once had, and you can only tell it used to be a raisin based on its slightly pruny texture.

Chocablog gave Revels a positive review, though Dom is from the UK and grew up eating them. Terry from Chocolate Review writes about Revels latest Big Brother-related promotion to evict a flavor. I vote to keep the Malteaser, to replace the caramel with a chewy Planet, and overhaul the rest. A plus a blech face from me. Like the Planets, a neat concept that was totally botched in the execution.

PS: Happy 08/08/08! My people, apparently, find the date to be auspicious. I’ll be trying to track down a television to watch the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics tonight.

Category: --, caramel, chocolate, coffee, cookie, European, review | 1 Comment »

Das Caramels in NY Times

August 7th, 2008 by Rosa

The NY Times dining section’s weekly Food Stuff from a couple of weeks ago featured news on New York sweets. Florence Fabricant was a bit late on the scoop of how great Das Caramels are. I reviewed the classic and chai latte varieties back in November and February, respectively. Cybele caught them even earlier in April of 2007, and Sugar Savvy writers (including myself) reviewed the rest of the line: orange and honey, chocolate and walnut, cafe cortado, ginger and pistachio, and lemon and honey.

Category: news | No Comments »

Mars Planets

August 6th, 2008 by Rosa

Mars Planets were a UK treat I had high hopes for mostly because they included what looked like malted milk balls, and I loooove malted milk balls. I could (and have) eaten malt powder straight and dry as a snack. I wonder if I should be ashamed of that… it seems rather akin to eating cookie dough straight off the log (haven’t done) or ice cream straight out of the tub (big fan of that one).

There are three types of Planets in the bag, soft, crispy, and chewy. Soft is the biggest, crispy is the middle size, and chewy is the smallest, so you can tell them apart by size before you bite into them. After they’re bitten in half, you can see that soft looks like it’s filled with nougat, crispy with crisp malt, and chewy with caramel. In reality, that’s mostly correct, but just wrong enough enough to disappoint.

Soft is filled with a chocolate nougat that’s pretty generically flavored and way too sweet. Chewy is filled with a nondescript caramel – no interesting burnt sugar or vanilla notes there, just overwhelming sweetness. And crispy, to my great dismay, didn’t taste like malted milk at all. I’d thought it was a Malteaser (Mars’s malted milk ball brand), but it tasted just like bland crispiness. No malt flavor whatsoever.

I commend Planets for their neat idea, but the execution was poor. All of the Planets were too sweet and too boring. An O. You can read Chocablog’s take on them here.

Category: caramel, chocolate, cookie, European, Mars, nougat, O, review | 2 Comments »

Win free chocolate for a year from NewTree

August 5th, 2008 by Rosa

NewTree is running a search for the Great American Text Story. Grand prize is free chocolate for a year and an iPhone. From the contest website:

Tap into your imagination, flex your literary muscle – and don’t forget to stretch your thumbs. Simply submit your Great American Story, txt-style. Create your masterpiece of 1500 words (one text message at a time) and incorporate ALL 11 NEWTREE chocolate names: PLEASURE, VIGOR, RENEW, REFRESH, FORGIVENESS, SEXY, BLUSH, TRANQUILITY, COCOON, REJOICE and CRAVE.

My Japanese lit teacher last semester started off our class by sharing this story with us, about Japan’s latest best selling cellphone novels. I wonder what he’d think of this contest.

Category: news | No Comments »