Archive for May, 2009

Lake Champlain Chocolate Organic Truffles

May 15th, 2009 by Rosa

More truffles! And I’ve got more unwritten truffle reviews in my tasting notes. Why so many? Because, as previously mentioned, a box of truffles and a bottle of white wine make for an excellent girl-time afternoon of aimless chit-chat and bonding.

This box of Lake Champlain Chocolate Organic Truffles was made for the holidays (hence the ornamental theme) but purchased in January (at half off!) and consumed in March. So they weren’t exactly at their peak of freshness. But since they’re mass produced, they do have a preservative (soy lecithin) and had survived well enough. Besides, for truffles that are sold in prepackaged boxes through grocery stores like Whole Foods, how fresh could they really ever be?

From top down, left to right, they are 70% Dark, Honey Fig, Aztec, Vanilla, Ginger Lemon, and Milk.

70% Dark – “Sweet & bitter goodness with a rich chocolate coating.” Bland cocoa flavor. Meh.

Honey Fig – “Wild honey & succulent figs join milk chocolate in aromatic delight.” A soft ganache with a sweet fruitiness to the finish. I don’t get fig, exactly, but then again, I rarely eat figs.

Aztec – “Cayenne & cinnamon warm dark chocolate, while a touch of lime chills.” Creamy ganache with a dry cinnamon spice and a dry heat. I love Mexican chocolate, and I enjoyed this truffle the most. No noticeable lime flavor or chill, at least in my not-so-fresh truffle.

Vanilla - “Pure vanilla notes in concert with 70% dark chocolate.” My friends ate this one while I was in the bathroom. They said it was good.

Ginger Lemon - “Tangy citrus & zippy ginger in perfect harmony with dark chocolate.” An initial ginger undertone with a light citrus finish.

Milk – “Rich milk chocolate whipped with cream & butter into silky smooth simplicity.” A super soft milk chocolate ganache with, sadly, no flavor notes. Blah.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I was underwhelmed. They were nice enough, and I’ll bet they were even better at full price when they were more fresh. And they’re certainly a cut above the even more mass-produced chocolate of other brands. But I like my truffles to have more of a wow factor. For me, that usually comes from creative flavor combinations, and these guys just didn’t deliver. An O.

Category: chocolate, Lake Champlain, O, organic, review | No Comments »

Chow’s 10 Japanese Sweets

May 14th, 2009 by Rosa

Chow’s regular feature, The Ten, recently profiled 10 Japanese sweets. I’ve had all but numbers 2 and 10, thanks to my Chinese family’s frequenting of Asian grocery stores.

Personally, I think there are Hi-Chew flavors out there that are better than the grape (like pineapple!), but they are right in that the grape Hi-Chew is far superior to other grape candies. And I had no idea Flower’s Kiss Candy, which I previously reviewed, was supposed to freshen your breath!

For those of you who don’t have easy access to Asian grocery stores, J-Box has a wonderful assortment of Asian goodies. When you buy through the link on my website, I get a tiny percentage of your sale, at no cost to you.

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Walkers’ Nonsuch Toffees

May 13th, 2009 by Rosa

I cannot believe that I haven’t reviewed Walkers’ Nonsuch Toffee here yet. Walkers’ and licorice pencils were my mondo UK candy loves, and when I ordered my London-raised boyfriend several boxes of his favorite UK cereal as a special treat, I made sure to slip a few slabs of Walkers’ into my order. It’s bloody difficult to find in the U.S.

Walkers’ Nonsuch Toffee is usually sold in two ways – as individually wrapped pieces or as one big slab that you could theoretically break apart to eat. I say theoretically because it’s easier said than done. If the toffee is too soft, you can pull and pull and it just gets sticky and stringy and messy, like taffy or caramel. If it was too hard (I usually chilled it in the fridge), you could whack it against another hard surface and make it shatter, but that could also make a mess by leaving little shards of toffee everywhere, which would then melt… everywhere.

Only when you got lucky did the pieces actually tear. I usually ended up just picking up the whole slab and gnawing on it – terrible manners that usually led to overindulgence, but so, soooo good. Consequently, for me, the better choice was to buy the individually wrapped pieces. As an added bonus, those came in more flavors.

I preferred the treacle toffee to the regular. It had a darkness to the sweetness, a just-short-of bitter, medicinal tinge. Think molasses – gloriously complex, deep, and delicious. And chewy – sticks to your teeth, gets caught in every nook and cranny chewy. An OMG.

The Chocolate Toffee was only so-so. It had a more manageable chew and was basically like a super creamy Tootsie Roll. I wish I had one handy now for comparative purposes – I bet it would taste an awful lot like my calcium chew supplements. An O.

The milk chocolate eclair was basically nice standard Walkers’ toffee with a bit of mockolate in the middle. It was an interesting contrast from the chewy toffee to the soft, almost frosting-like innards, but flavor-wise it wasn’t spectacular, so also an O. Walkers’ also makes a mint chocolate eclair, which I ate and photographed but didn’t take notes on, and a banana split eclair which I remember being super banana-y and not my thing.

The treacle toffee is hands down my favorite, and the regular toffee is pretty darn good too. I wish they were available in the U.S. The others are okay for eating – the next time I’m in England, I’d gladly snatch up another mixed bag or two of them – but I like the treacle and plain better. I’ve also got a couple of slabs of hazelnut toffee that I’ve been saving for a special occassion. Mmm!

Category: European, O, OMG, review, toffee | No Comments »

Free Chocolate Fridays

May 12th, 2009 by Rosa

Visit Mars’s Real Chocolate Relief Website every Friday between May 8th and September 25 for a chance to win a coupon good for a free Snickers, Milky Way, M&Ms, Twix, Dove, or 3 Musketeers. 250,000 coupons will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis on each Friday. Good luck!

Category: news | No Comments »

SunDomes assorted chocolates

May 11th, 2009 by Rosa

My favorite part about Whole Foods is their bulk food bins. I can pick out as much or as little as I want! Instead of buying a whole jar of a spice when I only need a pinch, I can buy just a pinch. Instead of buying a whole tub full of chocolate-covered almonds when I have a craving, I can buy just a handful.

And instead of buying a whole box or bag or whatever these usually come in, I can pick out just the SunDome flavors that I want to try: Chip ‘N Mint, Cashew Coconut Crunch, Mocha Jolt, and Chocolate Almond Toffee.

I’m currently having a hard time finding out more about these, as the SunRidge Farms website is under construction as of the time I’m writing this post. Best I can tell, they fit into Whole Foods’ image of crunchy-granola (literally) save-the-earth ethos pretty well. I can’t tell you, unfortunately, how many different kinds of SunDomes there are. I do remember the bin having at least twice as many different kinds as I bought – I wanted to get one of each, but that got heavy and too expensive.

The SunDomes are, expectedly, dome-shaped blocks of chocolate flavored in accordance with their names. The chocolate blocks are solid and thick, so not that easy to bite through and also not that easy to share. Each dome is sizeable, about half the size of a hockey puck.

Chip ‘N Mint had a strong, pepperminty scent with little bits of cookie or rice crisp that gave it a hint of crunch. The peppermint was nicely balanced – noticeable, but not too strong.

Mocha Jolt had a strong, genuine coffee taste that was quite enjoyable. There was a slight grit to the texture, which I’m pretty sure was ground up bits of coffee beans. Both of these were solid and thick, with a hefty, dull snap.

Cashew Coconut Crunch turned out to be a surprise. Its chocolate was a bit softer and milkier. It smelled strongly of coconut and had a hint of toasted dry coconut flavor that mingled with the slight nuttiness imparted by tiny bits of cashews sprinkled throughout. The surprise? Raisins! They added a fruity-raisin taste that sort of worked and sort of didn’t. For me, at least, that’s also how I feel about raisins. They sort of work as a snack, but they sort of don’t.

Finally, the Chocolate Almond Toffee, which also had a bit more give when bitten into. It starts with a slight nuttiness, thanks to the tiny bits of almond embedded throughout, that’s more roasty than that of the Cashew Coconut Crunch. That nuttiness then gives way to a burnt sugar note from the toffee aspect. I appreciated its complexity and flavor development.

I wish these came in smaller portions. I ate them across several sessions because they were just so big, and one bite of each was plenty satisfying. If they came in little tasting disks or something, I’d buy all of them again. As is, I think the Mocha Jolt and the Chocolate Almond Toffee are worth buying again, so they get OMs, while the Cashew Coconut Crunch and the Chip ‘N Mint are too big for their own good and get Os.

Category: chocolate, coconut, coffee, cookie, mint, nuts, O, OM, review, toffee | No Comments »

Seeds of Change

May 8th, 2009 by Rosa

Seeds of Change has been making the rounds in the candy blogosphere. They’ve been sending out lots of free samples to promote their nationwide launch of six new flavors of organic chocolate: milk, milk with puffed grains, dark, dark with cherries & vanilla, dark with coconut, and dark with mango & cashew. I got sent free bars of the later four dark bars.

chocfamilylineup.jpg

Each packaged bar was an envelope containing three smaller, individually wrapped bars. The individually wrapped bars were prettily molded and segmented into four smaller squares. Each square was imprinted with either the words “Seeds of Change Organic” or their patterned logo.

First up is the Dark Chocolate, a 61% cacao that forms the base of the other three. The snap is pretty soft for a dark bar, and its melt was pretty thick, like a dark ganache. It started with deep, dry cocoa flavors that gave way to a lightly sweet finish. Quite pleasant and OM-worthy.

The Dark Chocolate with Cherries and Vanilla had little bits of dried cherry sprinkled throughout the bar. The dried cherry pieces imparted sweet and sour cherry flavors that were quite nice in the creamy chocolate melt. I didn’t pick up blatant vanilla notes but still enjoyed the bar. Another OM.

Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew (above) was… interesting. Mango and cashew isn’t a standard flavor combination to me, especially with chocolate, though it could be common in another culture for all I know. Unlike in the cherries and vanilla bar, the dried fruit here doesn’t add any significant mango flavors, though there is a bit of a chewiness to the bits. Similarly, the tiny cashew bits add a light crunch but not much nuttiness. Just an O.

Finally, the Dark Chocolate with Coconut (below). It had a strong coconut scent that signaled a strong coconut flavor. The bar was chock full of toasted coconut flakes that carried a light crunch. The coconut flavor was STRONG. I appreciated the genuine flavors, but it was too much for me. I couldn’t eat more than a bite of this at a time, so it gets a O.

All in all, a nice line of certified organic chocolate bars. I liked the simpler flavors, while the more complex bars didn’t work for me, though I did appreciate the effort.

If you’d also like to try the bars for free, you can enter their “Change Tastes Good” contest. The grand prize winner will get a year’s supply of Seeds of Change bars, which works out to three per day – even I don’t eat that much chocolate! To enter, visit their website and submit a video, photo, or story about what you’ve done to help the Earth by July 31st.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, OM, organic, review | 1 Comment »

Chocolate as sustainable energy?

May 7th, 2009 by Rosa

Via the Economist, a piece about how Lindt’s cocoa shell castoffs could be used as sustainable fuel (when mixed with coal). Unfortunately, said power source doesn’t make the factory smell like chocolate.

Category: news | No Comments »

Dove Promises Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter

May 6th, 2009 by Rosa

Dove Promises’s newest product, milk chocolate with peanut butter, is heading into bold territory by trying to hone in on Reese’s audience. Challenging Reese’s is no small feat – they’ve really perfected the chocolate/peanut butter balance, both flavor and texture-wise, and they’re a brand behemoth. It may not be entirely fair to judge Dove against Reese’s, but the comparison is unavoidable.

So how’d they do? The Promises are covered in classic smooth and creamy Dove milk chocolate and filled with a similarly silky peanut butter filling. The milk chocolate was soft rather than snappy, making the whole Promise rather pliable.

The peanut butter filling was nutty, but not roasty, and could have been saltier. Reese’s has done so well precisely because its peanut butter is salty enough to really stand up against the chocolate. Dove’s could have been stronger. Still, Dove did at least manage a decently balanced chocolate to peanut butter ratio.

All in all, not a bad effort. They look slightly nicer than Reese’s miniatures, and they’d fit in nicely with a mix of Promises for a living room candy bowl. But if I have a peanut butter/milk chocolate craving while I’m in the candy aisle, I’d go with a Reese’s instead. An O.

Category: chocolate, Dove, O, peanut butter, review | 3 Comments »

Cute Hershey’s Kisses Commercial

May 5th, 2009 by Rosa

Via AdFreak, a cute Hershey’s commercial with anthropomorphized Kisses.

Category: news | No Comments »

Southern Candymakers’ Pralines

May 4th, 2009 by Rosa

While I spent my spring break in the chilly to frigid northeast, my roommate and other friends went south. I was jealous of their sunshine and tans, but at least my friends were thoughtful enough to bring me candy gifts from their warmer climes! Specifically, I got a box of assorted pralines from one of New Orleans’ candy institutions, Southern Candymakers.

I’d only known of praline as a truffle filling. Since I received this box, I’ve read more about them on Wikipedia. In America, a praline can also refer to candies made from nuts and sugar. In New Orleans, pralines are made with pecans and extra cream. My assorted box included regular, rum, and chocolate pralines made with pecans and a coconut praline with no additional nuts.

They came in a pretty box with nice seal. Unfortunately, either the box was poorly sealed on the bottom or got damaged a bit in transit – the bottom flaps didn’t fully close, and sugar scattered everywhere when I picked it up. That made me sad for two reasons: the resulting mess and the loss of candy!

The original praline featured brown sugar and pecans. Depending on the chunk you bite, it’s either a great sugar-coated pecan in which the nutty pecan flavor comes through wonderfully, or it’s pure brown sugar overload.

I originally identified the rum praline as maple. Visually, it looks just like the original, but the sugar has lovely maple notes to it. In fact, I’m not actually sure which praline is which. It could be that this is the original while the brown sugary one is rum. At any rate, I like this one better, as the maple lets the pecan flavor cut through better, and the praline is less cloying overall.

Coconut was basically just brown sugar and coconut. It was dried coconut rather than fresh, but it tasted genuine and was pretty good.

Finally, the chocolate one was my favorite. It doesn’t taste strongly of chocolate, exactly. Instead, it imparts a nice, deep cocoa flavor to the sugar, which really adds to the complexity and makes the praline quite enjoyable.

I give the chocolate an OM. The others get Os. My friends get ZOMG!s for being so thoughtful. And I’ve got a nice case of sugar shock from eating all these pralines.

Category: coconut, nuts, O, OM, received as gift, review | 1 Comment »