Archive for May, 2009

Balisto Muesli-Mix

May 29th, 2009 by Rosa

I’m hopping a plane to Paris today, so I thought it fitting to trot out a review of a French candy bar that I ate last summer. I found these two Balisto bars in Le Gros Franck, the same Cambridge cafe where I found the Carambars I reviewed a while back. I’ll review the Muesli-Mix bar today and the Honey-Almond-Mix on Monday.

Muesli is a breakfast cereal made with oats, dried fruits, and nuts. It’s fairly popular in the UK. The ingredients in this Muesli Mix bar are: biscuit à la farine complète, crème au lait (16%), raisins et noisettes, enrobe de chocolat au lait (39%).

Thinking back to my high school and freshmen year French, I believe that means a whole-wheat cookie, cream, raisins, and hazelnuts, enrobed in milk chocolate.

The bulk of the bar was a fine-grained but grittily textured cookie that tasted wholesomely yummy. A thin layer of white cream topped the chocolate. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was – it reminded me of the fake milk stuff in General Mill’s Milk and Cereal bars.

Whole raisins randomly studded the top under the milk chocolate enrobing. The hazelnuts must have been quite finely chopped, as I didn’t notice any hazelnut pieces, but the whole bar had a nicely nutty tinge. I liked the Muesli-Mix bar. It tasted wholesome but was still a nice treat. An OMG.

Category: chocolate, cookie, European, Mars, nuts, OMG, review | 1 Comment »

Candy Wedding

May 28th, 2009 by Rosa

I usually skip the NY Times Vows section in Sunday Styles, so I missed this article about a couple getting married in Dylan’s Candy Bar, complete with Hershey’s dress from a past Project Runway challenge, when it first ran. Sweet, indeed, but perhaps a little TMI about their long and rocky relationship?

Photo from NYTimes.com

Category: news | 3 Comments »

Amella Caramels

May 27th, 2009 by Rosa

When Amella Caramels contacted me about trying free samples of their caramels, I almost turned them down. I was out of town relaxing in Myrtle Beach, and it was a week and a half before my graduation day, just shy of two weeks when I was to move everything I owned (including my candy stash) to upstate New York (quite far from home in Texas). I thought I’d never have the time. Thank goodness I changed my mind. These guys were ridiculously good.

Amella Caramels are artisan caramels that come in three flavors, carrot cake, black forest, and passion fruit. Not only do they taste great (we’ll get to that in a bit) but also, they come in ingenious packaging. Each box looks artisinal, as if it’s made with handmade paper. Pop the lid open, and you can see the three caramels inside through a little plastic viewing window.

Carrot Cake: “Taste a medley of fresh carrots, roasted pecans, and cocoa butter with creamy caramel, hand dipped in the finest white chocolate.”

White chocolate? I could’ve sworn the topping tasted like cream cheese frosting. This guy blew me away. The chew was soft and non-sticky. It was like eating a bite of gooey carrot cake that just happened to have a light caramel-y finish. The flavor was quite genuine, and a few bits of pecans were dispersed throughout. The white chocolate overpowered the caramel flavor of the bite – I really only got the caramel-ness when I nibbled it sans white chocolate – but it was still quite good.

Black Forest: “Lose yourself in a blend of real Amarelle cherries, 70% dark chocolate, and Tahitian vanilla with buttery caramel, hand dipped in fine white chocolate and topped with dark chocolate sprinkles.”

This was far more caramel-like in texture than the Carrot Cake. It was soft and chewy with just the right amount of sticky, so that the chew didn’t last too long and so that your fillings are never in danger. The caramel has a deep, dark chocolate flavor that would be great as is – but it gets better! After a few chews, a strong and fruity cherry finish comes through, delighting the palate. The white chocolate top isn’t really noticeable because the caramel is so strongly flavored, and that’s just fine by me.

Passion Fruit (bottom right): “Discover pure bliss from real passion fruit, cocoa butter, and Tahitian vanilla with buttery caramel, hand dipped in the finest milk chocolate.”

This was the most caramel-y of the three. It starts out like a nice, buttery caramel (same texture as that of the Black Forest) before bursting into a sudden bright and vibrant fruity sweetness with citrusy high notes. The chocolate is there, but I didn’t care, as the caramel flavor with the transition to fruity sweetness is the selling point. I think I could eat these all day and never get bored by that sudden switch.

These all get ZOMG!s, though I like the Black Forest and Passion Fruit much better than the Carrot Cake. I tried the Carrot Cake first and gave it a ZOMG!, not realizing that the other two would get even better, and I decided that it wouldn’t be fair to downgrade it.

Sadly, they ain’t cheap – $4.99 per 3-pack, with free shipping on orders of $29.94 or more. You can order online for now. I do hope they wind their way into stores. I can see places like Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table keeping these by the register (they’re certainly better than the Mitchell Sweets that Sur La Table already sells), and I’d even enjoy these as dessert in a nice restaurant.

Category: caramel, chocolate, review, ZOMG! | 2 Comments »

David Lebovitz at Valhrona school

May 26th, 2009 by Rosa

Seriously, food blogging doesn’t get much better than this: David Lebovitz + Valhrona truffle making school = me drooling on my keyboard.

Category: news | Comments Off

Commencement?!

May 25th, 2009 by Rosa

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Holy cow. Today is the first day of the rest of my life…

Today, I graduate from college. Tomorrow, my parents and boyfriend and I are spending the day in NYC. Hopefully I’ll manage to sneak in a trip to a good candy source – they’re all over the place in the city.

Wednesday we drive my stuff to Rochester, NY, my new home for the next two years. Thursday I fly with my boyfriend to his home in Boston. Friday, my boyfriend and I fly to Paris (eee! My first time in continental Europe!), where we’ll spend ~10 days in France and Spain.

So excited! So terrified! Back to your regularly scheduled candy posts tomorrow!

Category: news | 3 Comments »

Godiva Truffles

May 22nd, 2009 by Rosa

Back before I started candy blogging in earnest, I thought Godiva was the pinnacle of chocolates. How could they not be, with their beautiful, shiny, golden ballotins? When I was in middle school, my family got bumped up to first class for a Shanghai to Tokyo flight. They served Godivas for dessert, which only bolstered my vaunted view of the brand.

Now that I’ve tasted my way through hundreds and hundreds of sweets, I know that there are far better chocolates out there, and I’ll probably never buy Godivas myself. Still, I wouldn’t turn them down if they were offered to me for free, like at a Times Talk I attended as part of last year’s New York City Wine and Food Festival.

Our tickets for that talk did not come cheap, so I was pleased by my free box of Godivas (and the chance to meet Ferran Adria and Anthony Bourdain). The eight truffles within were (from left to right, then top to bottom in the below photo): milk chocolate, hazelnut praline, dark chocolate, smooth coconut, French vanilla, roasted almond, extra dark chocolate, and double chocolate raspberry.

Milk chocolate was a milk chocolate shell around a creamy, sweet, and fatty milk chocolate ganache. Godiva calls this one “the classic.” The dark chocolate was a dark version of the milk (duh) that I found to be overly sweet, though its fruity finish was nice.

I liked the extra dark chocolate somewhat more. Its ganache was thicker and less flowy than those of the milk and dark, but it still managed to be unpleasantly greasy. It had a deep cocoa flavor but not much flavor nuance otherwise.

The hazelnut praline (above), dubbed a “nutty reverie” by Godiva, was a milk-chocolate enrobed truffle covered in tiny bits of chopped and candied hazelnuts.  The nut bits had a light crunch and a sweet crisp, and the truffle itself had a yummy, honeycombed nuttiness to it, making it my favorite in the box.

Double chocolate raspberry (aka “berry tempting” in Godiva-speak) had a strangely wet ganache enrobed in dark chocolate. It had a seedy raspberry sweet finish, and the whole truffle had a nice brightness to it.

Coconut (below) was a white ganache with a milk chocolate coating. It was nicely nutty, with a slight grain and grit to the filling. The finish was sweet and tasted strongly of coconut, and the whole thing was a tad too sweet for me.

French vanilla was dark chocolate around a creamy, white filling. I didn’t get much genuine vanilla flavor from this. Instead, I mostly tasted its saccharine finish.

Finally, roasted almond was my second favorite after the hazelnut praline. Its ganache was thick and creamy with a wonderful roasty nuttiness. I found it pleasant to eat but also a bit overly sweet. Perhaps it would have been better in a dark enrobing?

The box as a whole gets an O, while the hazelnut praline and the roasted almond get OMs. If I had paid for it (looks like retail price is ~$16.50), I would have been disappointed. Godiva truffles just aren’t that great – I think they’re over-greasified and under-flavored. Skip these guys and head to your local chocolatier instead. They’ll probably have stuff that’s far better – handmade and fresh! – for a comparable price.

Category: chocolate, coconut, Godiva, nuts, O, review | 2 Comments »

How much sugar is in candy?

May 21st, 2009 by Rosa

SugarStacks.com is a neat site that visualizes how much sugar is in various foods by stacking a corresponding number of sugar cubes. They have a limited candy section which is somewhat startling, if unsurprising.

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Photo courtesy of sugarstacks.com

PS: Happy 22nd Birthday to my friend Cassie, giver of many great candy gifts and introducer of great candy/food sources.

Category: news | Comments Off

Cadbury Starbar

May 20th, 2009 by Rosa

This Cadbury Starbar’s been floating around in my tasting notebook since I had it last summer while I was in England. It was on my list of candy bars to try while there, thanks to a favorable Chocablog review.

The Starbar is “shot through with peanuts and caramel,” which made me think that it would be a Snickers-like bar. Well, not exactly.

The milk chocolate coating (14% of the bar) was greasy. Immediately under the chocolate was a circular layer of gooey, sweet, and sticky caramel. A few salty peanuts studded the nougat, but they were few and far between, not exactly “shot through” with peanuts.

I think there were also little wafer bits inside the sweet nougat center that weren’t advertised on the wrapper. I don’t know why not, as it’s a nice feature. It provides an enjoyable textural contrast that gives this bar an extra edge.

I was disappointed by the lack of peanuts but pleasantly surprised by the wafer bits. Not sublime, but pretty good for a mass-produced bar. An OM.

Category: Cadbury, caramel, chocolate, European, nougat, nuts, OM, review | 3 Comments »

All Candy Expo

May 19th, 2009 by Rosa

This year’s All Candy Expo kicks off today. It’s basically a giant candy trade show featuring new products and free samples and all kinds of candy swag. I was invited, and holy cow I would love to attend, but I just can’t afford it right now. I’m busy getting ready to graduate from college and start a life on my own, so I don’t have the time, and I just emptied my savings for a post-graduation vacation, so I don’t have the money.

What I will be doing, however, is following along online. Candy Dish Blog, the official blog of the National Confectioners’ Association, which puts on the All Candy Expo,  has been updating about it for ages, and they’ll continue to update throughout the Expo. They’re also running a contest for a chance to win some Expo candy, which I’m entering with this post.

There’s always next year…

Category: news | Comments Off

Life Savers Gummies – Island Fruits

May 18th, 2009 by Rosa

I got these Life Savers Gummies as free samples from Wrigley (they came with the Orbit Mist). The Island Fruits lineup is new to the Life Savers Gummies family and features the following flavors: pineapple, fruit punch, strawberry kiwi, and mango melon.

I’ve always enjoyed Life Savers Gummies, but I rarely buy them. I guess it’s because I associate Life Savers with hard candy, and when I have gummi cravings, I think Haribo or Trolli. The rolls contain a lucky 13 ring-shaped gummies that are slightly greasy to the touch and that have a fairly stiff/sproingy chew.

Pineapple (bottom left) had a genuine fruit flavor with just a tinge of the essence of a pineapple’s core. Fruit punch (top right) was pretty basic, like Hawaiian punch in gummi form.

Strawberry kiwi (top left) was lightly flavored and reminded me of a Snapple juice drink. I wouldn’t have identified this flavor without knowing which flavors the assortment contained. Finally, mango melon (bottom right) was sweetly fruity with a round canteloupe finish. I didn’t pick up any mango notes, but I guess just calling it melon loses the alliterative effect.

Overall, these were rather enjoyable – I finished both sample rolls on my own – but I probably wouldn’t buy them again. I wish they had a little more oomph to them, so they get an O. Surf Sweet’s Super Sour Worms are still my go-to gummi for now, as their fruit flavors are far brighter and far more genuine.

Category: gummi/gummy, O, review, Wrigley's | Comments Off