Archive for December, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

December 16th, 2009 by Rosa

I, like many people (I suspect), eat chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream solely for the cookie dough bits. Whenever I buy it, the container ends up full of gouges where I’ve tried to dig deep for just one more sugar rush of a cookie dough hunk. How fortunate that there exists a candy that’s all cookie dough hunks and no ice cream!

I’ve often seen these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (hereafter referred to as CCCDB) in stores and movie theaters, but I’d never bought them before. I guess they never looked or sounded alluring enough on their own, especially when juxtaposed against other theater boxes of candy. When CCCDB’s PR company emailed to offer me free samples, I jumped at the chance to try a treat that I’d oft considered but always passed over.

The box calls them “bite size cookie dough in creamy milk chocolate”, while the box’s artwork portrays shiny globules that look more dark chocolate-covered to me. In real life, they’re covered in a matte, rather dull looking coating.

Creamy is definitely a misnomer for that coating. It’s totally devoid of any mouthfeel, and there’s barely any chocolate flavor to it. Instead, these CCCDBs taste mainly of the “cookie dough”.

That dough has a dry, grainy texture and a light brown sugar sweetness to it. As a cookie dough, it’s acceptable, if rather bland, but if it were a cookie, I’d be annoyed at the mild flavor.

In other words, the cookie dough basically tastes like the cookie dough hunks from chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, but a little sadder because they’re not surrounded by and steeped in creamy, delicious ice cream. I was wrong in my opening paragraph – the ice cream is key to the dough hunks’ deliciousness quotient!

Insipidness aside, these are strangely poppable. I finished a box in a two or three sittings, and now I’m scared of them. They weren’t that tasty, but I couldn’t stop eating them! Maybe because they so lacked in satisfaction? They get an O. I’m giving my second box away to keep myself from eating it all.

Category: chocolate, O, review | Comments Off

Chow and Foodzie Charity Drive

December 15th, 2009 by Rosa

Chow and Foodzie are partnering to do good for Boston, New York, San Francisco, and LA charities. They’ve selected a bunch of local food items that, when purchased via Foodzie, means a donation of a portion of the proceeds.

They’ve got lots of candy-centric items available, including Taza’s stoneground chocolate bars (reviewed here), Christopher Norman’s chocolate-covered cherries, bacon peanut brittle, Ococoa haute peanut butter cups, P.O.P. Candy’s holiday butter crunch, and Sweet Revolution’s handmade salted caramels.

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels

December 14th, 2009 by Rosa

Since we don’t have Trader Joe’s in Rochester, I like to make it a point to shop there and check out their candy selection when I visit my boyfriend in Boston. I picked up a few things over Thanksgiving, including this box of their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels.

They’re promoted as “buttery smooth caramels drenched in Belgian chocolate, then sprinkled with crunchy rock salt from the Dead Sea”. Each box contains 12 square chocolate-covered caramels, all generously sprinkled with sea salt (some more generously with others).

The dark chocolate shell is thick and snappy and is juxtaposed against a gooey, liquid caramel that has a barely noticeable grain.

The caramel is too sweet for my tastes, for me akin to eating brown sugar. Its strong flavors overwhelm much of the cocoa flavors of the chocolate shell, but the chocolate does have some fruitiness, before turning dusky at the end.

For me, the chocolate and caramel are too sweet. Normally, a sprinkle of salt can offset such sweetness, but I think these guys were overly salted and lent a sourness to the sweet. Each salt crystal was quite large, so it packed quite a wallop.

These aren’t something I’d buy for myself again, but when I shared the caramels with friends, the remainder of the box got quickly gobbled up. An O from me, with the caveat that my friends gave them rave reviews.

If you want another opinion, here’s Cybele of Candy Blog’s take on an earlier version with different packaging.

Category: caramel, chocolate, O, review, Trader Joe's | 18 Comments »

Chocri Creations – Part III

December 11th, 2009 by Rosa

On Monday and Wednesday, I reviewed bars of my own design. For my third and final bar, I decided to let Chocri take the lead and made one of their recommended bars, the Magical Forest.

The Magical Forest is dark chocolate (64%) with blueberries, flower mix, and pine nuts. To jazz mine up a bit, and because I had more space for toppings, I added marzipan carrots and a marzipan rose, reasoning that since the marzipan sat on top of the chocolate, it wouldn’t disturb the essence of the Magical Forest.


I was quite excited about this one, as it sounded exotic. Real flowers! Pine nuts! Carrots! And it promised that “alone the scent of pine nuts forbodes which arcane taste experiences are hidden here.” I think Chocri has a bit more translation tweaking to do, but I kind of like their babelfishy description – it’s more mysterious!

The Magical Forest, unfortunately, turned out to be more like a potted plant. That is, less arcane and more pretty straightforward. The flower mix wasn’t noticeable to me in flavor or texture. At one point, I maybe got a barely perceptible hint of floral essence at the start, but it was so faint that it could have just been the power of suggestion.

The pine nuts were lackluster as well. By the time the bars made it to me (remember, they were shipped all the way from Germany!), the pine nuts had lost their distinctive flavor. They added some textural contrast, but not really anything in terms of taste. Maybe if they had been toasted first?

I did like the blueberries – they added a bit of chew and a bright fruitiness. And while the marzipan decorations were a bit dry at their outermost layer (especially the rose, which had more exposed surface area), they were delicious! Gritty/grainy as marzipan should be, with lots of almond (or almond extract) flavor that was good on its own or chomped up with the chocolate.

Speaking of the chocolate, it really shines in this bar. While Wednesday‘s dark bar had more domineering toppings, the ones on today’s bar mostly took a back seat to the lovely dark chocolate base. Again, it has deep, strong cocoa notes with a lovely duskiness and a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel.

I wouldn’t recommend the Magical Forest combination (though my guess is that it fares better in Germany, where it would be fresher upon delivery), but Chocri the company gets a ZOMG for a great concept that’s nicely executed. They give you high quality ingredients to work with, and if the flavor combinations don’t work out, it’s pretty much your fault. It’s so much fun to make the different bars – and so hard to choose from the plethora of toppings!

The only downside is the price. As you can see, the Magical Forest sans marzipan adornments is already nearly $13. With the extra decorations, it costs over $16, and that’s before shipping. Though the bars are fairly hefty (3.5 oz, and I think that’s before the toppings),  that’s still a lot to pay for a single bar.

Chocri bars would make good gifts – I think gifts should be things that the recipient wants/would like but would never buy for him/herself – but half the fun is choosing your own toppings. In a smart business move, it looks like Chocri will be offering gift certificates.

And for those of you with deeper pockets, or those more willing to splurge on chocolate, this would be a fun and tasty buy.

Category: chocolate, nuts, review | 4 Comments »

Candy as building materiel

December 10th, 2009 by Rosa

Via Serious Eats, a neat video of Lego sculpture artist Nathan Sawaya using Ritter Sport bars to build a house. Nom nom nom.


Category: news | 1 Comment »

Chocri Creations – Part II

December 9th, 2009 by Rosa

On Monday, I introduced Chocri and one of the bars that I customized with 5 of their 90 toppings, purposefully shooting for a weird creation. Today’s review is of a bar that I purposefully tried to make delicious. And it worked!

This one’s a 64% dark chocolate with cornflakes, sour cherries, sea salt, and ground chili. Lindt has already shown that cherry and chili go well with dark chocolate, and I liked Ritter Sport‘s cornflake bar, so why not mix them all together, with a dash of salt just for fun?

The dark chocolate base was lovely: snappy, with deep, strong cocoa notes and a nice amount of duskiness. And, like my other two Chocri bars, helpfully molded so that the back was lightly segmented for ease in eating.

The cornflakes were a light, crunchy touch that added a fun textural contrast, a bit of corny flavor, and a starch to temper the sweetness of the chocolate and cherries. Unfortunately, many of mine got pulverized when I handled the bar to break it along the segment lines. Maybe they would have survived better if they were mixed inside the chocolate instead of left to float on the surface.

The sour cherries really live up to their name and are super tart, in addition to being sweet and cherry-ful. The ground chili adds just enough heat to make itself known, but not so much that it gets too painful. That’s my kind of chili chocolate!

The sea salt, however, didn’t add much. In fact, I think it made the chocolate take on a sour tinge in some places – it wasn’t evenly distributed, so it was too strong in some places.

All in all, a nice mix of flavors and textures that go well together. If I had a do-over, I’d just go with the cherries, cornflakes, chili, and chocolate – a 4 Cs bar!

Category: chocolate, review | 1 Comment »

Sporcle Food/Candy Games

December 8th, 2009 by Rosa

Via Serious Eats, a round-up of food-related, time-wasting Sporcle games, including three candy-related ones:

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Chocri Creations – Part I

December 7th, 2009 by Rosa

Ever buy a chocolate bar and think, “This would be so much better with X instead of Y”, or “if only they added Z to this bar”? Well, soon you’ll be able to, once Chocri launches their US website (it’s currently still in preview mode).

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From their blog: “chocri is a German startup, founded a little more than a year ago. What we do is we allow you to customize your own chocolate bar on our website. You get to choose a base chocolate white, dark or milk chocolate, and then your favorites out of more than 90 toppings… We hand-make the bars in Germany, and ship them to you.”

I got to create three free sample bars, which I’ll review today and Wednesday and Friday. Today’s bar is the “Rosa purposefully picked out weird toppings and ended up with something gnarly” bar.

The above bar is a 32% milk chocolate with chives, sea salt, caraway, spicy volcano cashews, and cheese-curry cashews. Doesn’t it sound just scrumptious?

The milk chocolate base is pretty nice. It’s super thick and really coats the tongue and mouth. And it pairs decently well with the spicy volcano cashews, which are super spicy! They really set my tongue a-tingle and cut right through the sweetness of the chocolate.

But man-oh-man the chives really ruin the thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a reason why you don’t normally see chocolate paired with onion (if you didn’t know, chives are in the onion family). The two do NOT mix well. It’s pretty awful and blech-inducing.

The cheese curry cashews are savory and also don’t match the milk chocolate well, but they’re mostly just weird as opposed to nastily off-putting. Caraway is basically like fennel, which, as Hedonist has shown, can go well with chocolate. But the chives pretty much ruined the bar for me.

So that bar was a fun experiment, at least. Officially, it gets a , but it’s totally my fault. Don’t worry too much, though; my other two creations were better. Stay tuned!

And check out other candy bloggers’ Chocri experiences below. The best part of Chocri’s customization means that all our reviews are different!

Candy Addict

Candy Gurus

Candy Yum Yum

Category: chocolate, nuts, review | 2 Comments »

More truffles from Hedonist

December 4th, 2009 by Rosa

I’ve previously sung the praises of Hedonist Artisan Chocolates on this blog, and today, I’m adding to the chorus. Unfortunately, because they shake up their line up so much, I’m no longer sure these truffles are even still available. Oops. On the plus side, that also means that they’ve got new flavors out!

These are a custom assortment that I chose (and, unlike the previously reviewed autumn collection, paid for) myself. I love that Hedonist lets you write down your order and then turns that into your chocolate guide. From left to right in the above photo, I’ve got cardamom, peanut butter and honey, imperial stout, ginger pop rock, and sesame.

Cardamom, a rolled truffle, is by far my favorite of the bunch. There’s an intense, almost savory note to the truffle that makes it wonderfully earthy. It’s a great flavor pairing that’s astoundingly delicious.

Peanut butter and honey (above) is a molded milk chocolate truffle with a fun skull stenciled on top. The peanut butter inside is dry, with a slight grain to it (similar to the texture of a Reese’s).  It’s super peanut-y, with a tinge of sweet and a slight saltiness to the finish. The honey and the milk make it a little too sweet for my taste, but it’s otherwise good.

Imperial stout is another rolled truffle (below). It tastes of cocoa with a dark yeastiness, with a finish that’s reminiscent of the scent of Guinness. Ever since I had Guinness for breakfast as a college freshman, I’ve generally avoided dark beers, so this wouldn’t be a truffle I’d pick out again, though I did enjoy tasting it.

Ginger pop rock was a hollow, heart-shaped dark chocolate shell filled with flavorless pop rocks and bits of candied ginger. It adds a fun effect to the fairly familiar (to a candy blogger, at least) combination of chocolate and ginger.

I tasted this one about 2 weeks after I’d bought it, so the pop rocks had softened a bit from moisture. They were still poppy and fun, but I’ve now learned that pop rock truffles should be consumed as soon as possible for maximum crunchiness.

Last, but not least, the sesame truffle was a molded milk square sprinkled with sesame seeds. Unsuprisingly enough, it tastes similar to the bark, just creamier because it’s a ganache, and maybe a tad heavier on the salt and sesame oil. I think I prefer it in bark form because you get a bit more crunch that way, but the truffle incarnation is nice as well.

All in all, I’m happy with the five truffles that I chose. As I write this from my notes, weeks after I first tasted them, I wish I had more of the cardamom, so that gets a ZOMG! Sesame merits an OMG for its surprising and surprisingly delicious flavor combination, while the rest hover around an O/OM. While all are expertly crafted and well-made, they do run the ratings gamut solely based on my personal flavor preferences.

Category: chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, O, OM, OMG, peanut butter, review, ZOMG! | 1 Comment »

Taza Open House Tour

December 3rd, 2009 by Rosa

If you were jealous of my tour of the Taza chocolate factory, here’s your chance to take your own this Saturday! It’s free and comes with free tastings!

The details:

Taza Chocolate Open House – Winter 2009
Date:  Saturday, December 5th 2009
Time: 10 AM to 6 PM
Where: 561 Windsor St, Somerville, MA  02143

Category: news | 1 Comment »