Archive for April, 2009

Extra Crunchy M&M

April 30th, 2009 by Rosa

If you especially enjoy blue peanut M&Ms, maybe you shouldn’t read about the woman who found a tiny mammal bone inside a blue peanut M&M. The blue ones are my favorite (for no good reason), but only when they’re bone free. I know it’s nigh impossible to keep everything out in food factories, which is why the FDA allows a certain amount of bug and animal bits in food, but that’s something no one wants to think about or stare in the face. Or feel in one’s mouth. That poor woman.

Also, why do the M&Ms look green when they’re supposed to be blue? Bad captioning? Incompetent photographer? Poor post-processing?

Category: news | Comments Off

Schocolat – Part II

April 29th, 2009 by Rosa

A continuation of Monday’s review, the next five chocolates in my Schocolat box.

First up at the top, a salted caramel that wasn’t in their chocolate guide, I guess because they’re usually sold in boxes of all caramels. As with the bunny chew from Monday, it’s a stiff caramel that really gets in your teeth. The salt offsets the brown butter flavor nicely, though I wish the flavor developed a bit more as you chew it. Still, a lovely treat and OM-worthy.

Moving clockwise is what I think is a Gianduja, “layers of hazelnut flavored milk and dark chocolate dipped in milk chocolate finished with a candied hazelnut.” I say think because it tasted more like peanut butter than Nutella to me and my friends. Sadly, the nut topping was so candied that I couldn’t tell what kind of nut it was.

The dark and milk layers were visible in the super stiff ganache, and the whole thing had a roasty nuttiness with a creamy chocolate finish. An OM, regardless of my nut uncertainty.

Next is the round rolled-then-enrobed truffle, the only one in the box that wasn’t molded and another one that was off the guide. My friend Rita bit into it first and made a blech face. Surprise! It’s banana, which Rita is allergic to.

Specifically, it’s a white chocolate ganache. It has a strong banana flavor with a sweet, white chocolate finish. The dark chocolate coating was studded with bits of candied almonds. Nice, but not for me (or Rita), so an O.

The skinny gold ingot shaped chocolate is the Golden Cinnamon, “milk chocolate ganache flavored with gold-schlager cinnamon liquor surrounded in dark chocolate and gold flecks.”

The creamy ganache had a light, barely noticeable cinnamon spice and heat to it, with more cinnamon in the finish. A lovely, perfectly balanced blend that gets an OMG.

And last for today, the dark and milk domed truffle that’s also off guide. It’s definitely peanut butter with a super roasty finish. An O, not because it’s bad, but because I’m not that big on peanut butter.

It also makes me more sure that we correctly identified the Gianduja. I think the Gianduja didn’t taste hazelnutty enough because it was made with actual hazelnut butter, thus the more-subtle-than-Nutella flavor.

So – back on Friday for the rest of the box. It gets even better!

Category: caramel, chocolate, nuts, O, OM, OMG, peanut butter, received as gift, review | Comments Off

975 pages about chocolate?

April 28th, 2009 by Rosa

And I thought my 14 pager was decent chocolate scholarship… From a NY Times Food Stuff brief, news of a 975 page book entitled Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage.

I wonder how one goes about getting Mars to subsidize your research. Maybe if I used Mars chocolates as food rewards in my behavioral psychology studies?

Category: news | Comments Off

Schocolat – Part I

April 27th, 2009 by Rosa

Earlier this month, my friend Rita received a package from her mother with the following note:

“Hi Rits, I’ve been meaning to send these for ages to Rosa for evaluation. They looked so good, maybe she’ll share some with you.”

Inside the package was a lovely box of chocolates from Schocolat. I love Rita, and I love her mother, and I loved these chocolates. And don’t worry – I shared them with Rita and a third friend, Katie. Let me tell you, an afternoon sipping wine and tasting fine chocolates is great for catching up and bonding with your girlfriends.

Schocolat is a chocolate boutique located in Leavenworth, Washington, and they make all of their beautiful chocolates by hand. The Easter box was jam packed with 14 chocolates. So jam packed, in fact, that I couldn’t figure out how to get them all back in after I took them out to photograph them. I’ll review them in chunks over the course of the week.

I know how chocolatiers make pretty molded truffles – they just use pretty molds – but I’m not sure how they painted the hearts and bunnies on. Impressive, and adorable.

The pink-hearted chocolate is the Harlequin: “dark chocolate enrobes a duo of milk chocolate and creamy white chocolate ganache infused with fresh lemon.” The orange flavor was light, with a slightly bitter, zesty finish that I attributed to the lemon infusion. I’m not a white chocolate fan, so this wasn’t really for me. An O.

The other white chocolate was painted with bunnies and wasn’t in the chocolate guide. It turned out to be a stiff piece of caramel coated in white chocolate. The caramel was super sticky and had a nice brown buttery flavor. An O, but only mostly they make a better salted version of this that you’ll hear about later.

The Raspberry Crown was “dark chocolate ganache folded in with raspberry puree and a splash of Chambord covered in a dark chocolate.” The bright fruity filling was a thin, creamy ganache. It had a lightly seedy, super genuine raspberry flavor that gave way to a dark chocolatey finish. Quite enjoyable and worthy of an OM.

Last for today is the Earl Grey, “double bergamot tea infused in fresh cream and milk chocolate finished in a milk chocolate coating.”  The ganache here was a bit thicker than that of the raspberry crown. It was still creamy; just thicker. It’s definitely Earl Grey all right – floral and perfumey with a light cocoa finish. Earl Grey isn’t my cup of tea (har har), so also an O.

Come back on Wednesday and Friday for the rest of Schocolat week!

Category: caramel, chocolate, O, OM, received as gift, review | 1 Comment »

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and Caffe Mocha Truffles

April 24th, 2009 by Rosa

Today brings us reviews of two more chocolates from Starbucks, their Caramel Macchiato and Caffe Mocha truffles. I gave the Chai Truffles a meh review last time, but I had coupons, so I went ahead and bought more to try.

The truffles are billed as “marvelous milk chocolate [enveloping] caramel centers infused with our Espresso Roast coffee.” Out of the box, they smelled overwhelmingly sweet and looked perfectly molded. A cross section reveals a fairly thick milk chocolate coating covering a smooth truffle center.

The smooth truffle center was cloyingly sweet, and I didn’t get any caramel notes because the sweetness was so overwhelming. The milk chocolate coating also overwhelmed the truffle filling. There was a slight bitterness to the finish – I guess that was the coffee part? An O.

I liked the Caffe Mocha truffles, “lucious milk chocolate [embracing] creamy mocha centers infused with our rich Espresso Roast coffee”, much more. The molding was prettier here, with two coffee beans stamped on the top. I thought they covered an actual espresso bean, but alas, they were made of chocolate. Boo. I guess it would’ve been too expensive to make the effort of putting real beans on the truffles.

The center, like that of the caramel macchiato truffle, was smooth and creamy. It had a strong, deep roasty coffee flavor that went well with the chocolate coating. The chocolate shell was thinner in this truffle, so it was far better balanced. It was like eating a smooth chocolate-covered espresso bean. Highly enjoyable and worth an OMG.

Category: caramel, chocolate, coffee, Hershey's, O, OMG, review | Comments Off

Candy Corn Dolls

April 23rd, 2009 by Rosa

I know Halloween is ages away, but Dan Goodsell just posted his new candy corn dolls on his site, and they’re ridiculously adorable.

Click here to buy your own. I’ve got a Joe the Egg from the time I participated in Mr. Toast’s tour of the US. He may be getting a sweet, tricolored companion soon.

Category: news | 2 Comments »

Orbit Mist

April 22nd, 2009 by Rosa

As promised yesterday (I rearranged things to publish this review two days early; yesterday’s post originally promised the gum review for Friday), I’ve got a new gum review for y’all courtesy of a generous box of free samples from Wrigley. By the way, they called me the wrong name in the form email they sent me, which I found amusing.

Orbit Mist is a new line from Orbit that’s distinguished by its inclusion of “micro-bursts”, which give you a hydrating sensation when the gum is chewed. I’ve never before wished that my chewing gum could be more hydrating, but it seems like a nice enough touch. Orbit Mist currently comes in three flavors, Mango Surf, Watermelon Spring, and Peppermint Spray.

orbit-mist-mango-surf.gif

I thought Mango Surf was an interesting flavor choice for a product launch, as it’s not a conventional flavor of gum or candy. The gum is the familiar little rectangle shape that all Orbit gum has, but it’s visibly flecked with the “micro-bursts”. In this case, it’s orange on orange. I appreciated the little design touch of the circles on the wrapper – very mod.

The “micro-bursts” add an initial crunch when you first chew the gum. And I don’t know how they work, but they work. They make the gum incredibly juicy for the first minute or so of chewing, after which the gum mellows into a soft, lightly flavored chew. The mango flavor is pretty impressively authentic at first – they captured that uniquely seedy flavor of mango, especially that of the flesh nearest to the pit- an even as it fades, a light fruity sweetness is maintained for a good chunk of time.

orbit-mist-watermelon-spring.gif

Watermelon Spring is green gum flecked with red “micro-bursts”. It’s surprisingly sour to start. Nothing too intensely puckery, but enough to make you notice. The juicy sourness quickly gives way to a pretty standard artificial watermelon flavor, like that of a watermelon Jolly Rancher. Again, the flavor holds up well enough and lingers as a mellow sweetness.

orbit-mist-peppermint-spray.gif

I started with the two fruit flavored gums, so I was interested as to how the juiciness, expected from fruits, would translate to a peppermint flavor. It’s anticlimactically totally okay and not at all weird.  I did find the “micro-bursts” to be extra crunchy/poppy in this, but it could have been my imagination. The peppermint is freshly minty with just a tinge of sweetness to the finish, and it’s that slight sweetness that lingers in the gum after most of the mint flavor is gone.

All in all, I’m a fan of the “micro-bursts”. Contrary to what Conde Nast Portfolio will tell you, I’m not actually a gum addict, and I gave most of my extra packs away. If I were a gum addict, these would get a higher rating because they’re good, as far as gum goes. I think the fruit ones are worth an OM, while the peppermint gets an O because it’s hard to make peppermint gum exciting. In fact, the Peppermint Spray was about as exciting as peppermint gum can get. I’m hoping that Orbit continues to expand the Mist line to more flavors, especially citrus fruit flavors.

Category: gum, mint, O, OM, review, Wrigley's | 7 Comments »

I’m a self-confessed gum addict?

April 21st, 2009 by Rosa

Conde Nast’s Portfolio has an article about gum – and how gum sales are doing in this economy (a good chunk of journalism is variations on a theme, I suppose).

My favorite part of the article was this paragraph:

Rosa Li, a psychology student at Yale and self-confessed gum addict who reviews chewing gums on the blog SugarSavvy.net, said she’s noticed the flavor of gum lasting longer. She prefers gums with “softer textures” and “complex or exotic flavor combinations” like Extra Fusion’s raspberry, black currant, and grapefruit flavor, which is only available in England. She also likes Orbit’s Mint Mojito, which is one of a number of cocktail-inspired gums. Others include Orbit’s Sangria Fresca and Trident’s Cool Colada.

My least favorite part is that she attributed me to Sugar Savvy, which I write for about twice a month, but neglected to mention this site, my baby and where I post on a week-daily basis. And I don’t remember telling the reporter who interviewed me last October that I was addicted to gum, but whatevs. It’s my first press quote! Well, about candy, at least. You can find some stuff about me and the YPMB, I’m sure.

Also, it’s a good thing that the piece got published now instead of a month and a week later, as I wouldn’t have been a Yale psychology student at that point!

Speaking of gum, I’ll have a gum review for ya tomorrow, thanks to free samples from the folks at Wrigley. Stay tuned!

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Wooo!! + Hershey’s Barbie giveaway winner

April 20th, 2009 by Rosa

Dear readers,

At some point today, before 4 pm EST, I will turn in my completed undergrad thesis about the origins of prospect theory preferences. Hooray!

pt-value-function.jpg

Thus, I am taking the day off. Sort of. I’ve got a final project presentation for a graduate level seminar on Tuesday and a final exam in another seminar on Wednesday, so I can’t afford to actually take the day off. But I can symbolically do so here, and that counts for something.

Also, I have the winner of last week’s Hershey’s Barbie giveaway, courtesy of Mattel. A random number generator picked commenter #32, Ann, who will be receiving her very own Hershey’s Barbie. Congratulations to her, and thanks to everyone else for reading and entering. There will be more giveaways of other stuffs down the line, so stay tuned!

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Taza Stone Ground Organic Chocolate, 80%

April 17th, 2009 by Rosa

Taza Chocolate made it onto my radar via my friends Justin and Nana, who highly recommended it. Unfortunately, because they’re a small artisan company, the chocolate isn’t that widely sold in stores, and shipping chocolate gets expensive, so I resigned myself to waiting until the next time I went home (probably after graduation) to try to track it down at an Austin Whole Foods.

Lucky for me, I found some at a local New Haven cheese shop, Caseus, when I popped into pick up some Vosges bars for my next Calhoun College chocolate tasting.  They had the 60%, 70%, and 80% bars, but I only bought the latter because, at around $8 a pop, they weren’t cheap (even if it was Calhoun’s money that I was ultimately spending).

Taza is notable because they’re one of the few U.S. chocolate makers that make their chocolate from bean to bar. They’re also special because the chocolate is stone-ground, which yielded an interesting texture. I found the unusual texture intriguing and novel and interesting.

It was quite grainy, almost crunchy, and the whole thing kind of explodes in a burst of grit after a few chews. Our Associate Master remarked that it would probably make her 5 year-old son cry. Another taster likened the experience to eating sand. I thought the latter characterization was a bit of a stretch, as the grit wasn’t that rough, and I’d happily eat sand if it tasted as good at the Taza bar did.

The bar smells kind of acrid and plasticy – not exactly appetizing. Surprisingly enough, however, it tastes nothing like it smells. It’s actually quite bright and fruity, enjoyably so. Overall, I’d give the bar an OM. I took home the remainder of the bar, and I couldn’t stop popping the pieces because they were so texturally entertaining. I’d give it a higher rating if it weren’t so pricy, but for an organic, artisinal product, you definitely do get whatyou pay for.

Category: chocolate, OM, organic, review | 2 Comments »