Archive for January, 2010

Kettle Confections Almond Nougats

January 15th, 2010 by Rosa

Up until now, my food-related experience with Etsy has been with the myriad mini food jewelry pieces you can find there; I had no idea you could buy actual food – and more importantly, candy – there!

Word of warning: It looks like there’s a sidebar link for candies on the Etsy homepage. It’s actually candLes; disappointing. You want to click on the link for Plants and Edibles.

Kettle Confections is an Etsy maker of Almond Nougats that’s been featured on Martha Stewart Weddings’s website (as of writing time, they’re #47 in this list). I was fortunate enough to receive a free sample of their original and coffee flavored almond nougats.

The nougats were cut into thumb-sized rectangles and wrapped in edible rice paper. The rice paper will dissolve in your mouth without affecting the flavor.

It sticks to the candy but not to the wrapper, making it a smart packaging choice by Kettle Confections (also smart that they noted that it was edible on the package; not everyone grew up eating White Rabbit candy as I did, so not everyone thinks nothing of popping “paper” right into my mouth along with the candy). Though one or two of my un-rice-papered ends stuck to the wrappers, I had no trouble unwrapping my nougats.

Maybe a little trouble would have been a good thing. These nougats were delicious and disappeared all too quickly!

Both flavors were generously packed with almonds. I’ve been on an almond kick lately – I baked three batches of macarons and Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Amaretti Torte when I was home for the holidays – so these arrived at a good time. The whole almonds were super fresh and nicely roasted and thus packed with delicious roasty-nutty flavors.

The nougat was just chewy enough to get my jaw going, but not so chewy that it stuck to my teeth. The textures of the crunchy nuts and chewy nougat played off each other well, creating a texturally varied and addictively interesting treat.

The original nougats were sweet and tasted of milk and vanilla, which balanced well with the stronger roasted almond nuttiness. The coffee nougats had a strong coffee flavor but not of strong coffee – it was more cafe au lait. There was a slightly bitter coffee bite, but the nougat still tasted strongly of milk.

I loved both flavors and managed to polish off half of my bag all on my own. I would’ve eaten the whole thing, but I put some out in the living room for my roommates, and they got snatched up pretty quickly.

I didn’t know that I was a white nougat person until I tried these OMG-worthy treats. I’m now inspired to try more white nougats. Kettle Confections has certainly set the bar high!

Category: nougat, nuts, OMG, review | 1 Comment »

What Should I Eat? Candy Flowchart

January 14th, 2010 by Rosa

Eating on the Road’s “What Should I Eat?” food flowcharts have gotten good press in the blogosphere. Now that they’ve come up with a Candy Edition, I’m hopping on the bandwagon. Though I do feel like the novelty’s worn off a bit since the original, you have to give them props for the work that goes into producing these ginormous charts.

Check out the Candy Edition here in manageable form and here in giant, hi-res form.

Category: news | 2 Comments »

Hedonist Spice Collection Truffles

January 13th, 2010 by Rosa

Today’s review is more from Hedonist’s constantly changing truffle line-up: their current Spice Collection. It consists of peanut butter cayenne, raspberry wasabi, orange chipotle, lemon pepper, and coconut curry – clearly a very spicy Spice Collection. I was fortunate enough to receive a free sample box to review from the kind ladies at Hedonist.

I actually reviewed the Peanut Butter Cayenne over 9 months ago when I first visited the shop, but I didn’t realize it until I sat down to write this review (apparently I’d also had some version of their Ginger Molasses from the Holiday Collection on my first visit). I’m glad to see that my peanut butter cayenne tasting notes held up (ginger molasses varied a bit).

Here’s the peanut butter cayenne description based on the notes I took this time around: This dark chocolate truffle smells strongly of peanut butter, and for good reason, as its filling is a dry and gritty peanut butter.

The cayenne is barely perceptible at first, just a hint of heat to the finish, but the burn builds and builds even after the chocolate is gone, which is a neat effect. The heat never gets overwhelming; a plus for me.

Rasberry Wasabi was a dark chocolate in a heart-shaped mold. It smells quite fruity. I can see actual raspberry seeds inside the filling, so it’s no wonder that the flavor is of genuine raspberry.

The wasabi component is barely there as a horseradish-y finish. I like its subtlety and novelty, as I’ve never seen this flavor combination before.

Orange Chipotle is identifiable by a little orange dot against its dark chocolate coating. It smells lightly of fruit, though I don’t quite get citrus from the scent.

It first tastes of chocolate and smokiness that gives way to a gentle hint of orange oil before the chipotle burn powers through and wallops your tastebuds. This one is not for the faint of tongue, and I found this truffle’s heat to be more painful than enjoyable.

Lemon Pepper is a square dark chocolate shell with a white chocolate ganache. It tastes strongly of cracked black pepper with lemon undertones. The lemon and pepper pair nicely – they are, after all, a classic savory combination – but I didn’t care for how the duo went with chocolate.

The Coconut Curry was a dark chocolate shell sprinkled with yellow curried and plain white shredded coconut, plus a dusting of yellow curry. Unsurprisingly enough, it smelled super strongly of curry/cumin. But SURPRISE! It looked like this inside:

The bright yellow ganache was a bit of a shock. Mixed in were more bits of shredded coconut. The flavor profile begins with curry before the coconut flavor comes in. It’s actually a tad savory, despite the fact one would expect a chocolate truffle to be sweet. The inventive combination worked well for me.

Hedonist’s Spice Collection is full of creative flavor combinations. Coconut curry is a standout for its unusual nature and strikingness. I enjoyed the raspberry wasabi and peanut butter cayenne, while orange chipotle and lemon pepper weren’t to my tastes.

This collection would be a great gift for those with adventurous palates. As a whole, an OM. As stand-alones, peanut butter cayenne would get an extra G for its deliciousness, and coconut curry would merit that same bonus for sheer wow factor.

Category: chocolate, coconut, nuts, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Serious Eats Interviews a Lindt Master Chocolatier

January 12th, 2010 by Rosa

I want Ann Czaja’s job. She’s a Master Chocolatier with Lindt, and Serious Eats interviewed her. Then they let readers submit questions and interviewed her again. I have got to get on that white chocolate and gorgonzola thing she mentions.

Category: news | No Comments »

Salazon Chocolate Co. Bars

January 11th, 2010 by Rosa

Salazon Chocolate Co. is a newly launched company that’s specializing in organic salted dark chocolate. Thanks to my candy press status, I got to try them out via free samples from Pete Truby, the company’s founder.

According to their FAQs, Salazon is Spanish for salted. Their wrapper features a striking picture of salt farmers in South East Asia. Salazon’s natural sea salt actually comes from South America; the photo was just too pretty to pass up.

It’s also featured as the design on the bars themselves. They plan to change the photo in the future (necessitating the expense of getting new molds, perhaps?) and are inviting people to submit their own travel photos for consideration.

There are currently three bars in their lineup. The “plain”, so to speak, is their “organic dark chocolate with natural sea salt.”  The salt crystals visibly line the bottom of the bar (they’re not mixed into the chocolate).

The chocolate has a firm snap and a clean, smooth melt. It smells dusky and sweet, with notes of citrus. The salt does wonders – it brings out the many flavors of the chocolate, making it brightly sweet, tangy, and fruity, with an almost sour/salty tint. If you’ve never had salted sweets before, this bar will give you a flavor epiphany.

Next is the “organic dark chocolate with sea salt and organic turbinado cane sugar.” This seems to be Salazon’s alternative to a salted milk chocolate bar. Rather than dial down the cacao, they turned up the sweet by adding turbinado sugar, which has a large granule (visible in the photo below; see the brown speck just above the watermark?).

The salt’s effects are much more tempered here, thanks to that additional sugar, and the taste of the salt doesn’t come through much. The chocolate, still smooth and creamy, feels a bit thicker, and the bar tastes more muted. I mostly get a milky, caramel sweetness with a bit of a raisin finish. If I didn’t know that it was dark, I could swear it was milk.

The third and final bar in the Salazon line-up is “organic dark chocolate with sea salt and organic cracked black pepper.” I often seek out chili chocolates to try, but I have less experience with pepper and chocolate.

The bottom of this bar, flecked with big bits of cracked black peppercorns, is a visual treat. The salted chocolate component is back, with the sharp, tangy, sour, saltiness of the “original”, followed by a black pepper finish (full of olfactory peppery-ness). I don’t think I like it, exactly, but I did enjoy the evolving flavors and found them intriguing.

Salazon’s debuting with a solid product line of tasty bars. An OM and my best wishes for them as they make their way onto the market.

Category: chocolate, OM, organic, review | 4 Comments »

Trader Joe’s Espresso Pillows

January 8th, 2010 by Rosa

These Espresso Pillows are yet another purchase from Trader Joe’s arsenal of candy, this time from the candy display near the checkout counter. I nearly missed them, despite their classy looking tins, and I’m glad I didn’t.

They’re billed as “crunchy toffeed espresso bits covered in dark chocolate”. I’m not sure where the pillow part fits in, exactly, as they’re neither pillow soft nor pillow shaped. Each “pillow” is somewhere between the size of a Tic Tac and a jelly bean.

The dark chocolate is sweet, though unremarkable. It does its job just fine, though, paring well with the toffee centers.

The espresso toffee has a great texture. It cleaves with a clean crunch, which gives way to a bitter coffee edge on buttery toffee sweetness.

These things are AWESOME to crunch on. They have the flavor profile of chocolate-covered espresso beans, but they lack the grit of actual beans. They’re addictively tasty, warranting a ZOMG! and a stop to pick up more next time I’m near a Trader Joe’s.

If you want a second opinion, check out Cybele’s Candy Blog take.

Category: chocolate, coffee, review, toffee, Trader Joe's, ZOMG! | 7 Comments »

Chocolate Gradient Bar

January 7th, 2010 by Rosa

Via Serious Eats, a simple idea, beautifully executed, for a chocolate bar that goes from dark to white. The same company (also via Serious Eats) makes a chocolate pie chart that’s similarly clever.

Category: news | No Comments »

Haribo Sour S’ghetti

January 6th, 2010 by Rosa

I’ve often seen bags of Haribo Sour S’ghetti in stores but usually opted for more familiar gummis. I finally took the Sour S’ghetti plunge when they showed up at Aldi for around $1 a bag, a deal that was too good to pass up.

The s’ghetti are ~2 inch gummi noodles covered in granulated sugar. They have a super stiff chew that really gets stuck in your teeth. The noodles come in three flavors: apple, strawberry, and blueberry.

Apple is green, yet tastes more mellow and floral than granny smiths do. It also lacks the sour tang of granny smiths.

The red strawberry is a slightly medicinal red fruit flavor. Because of that, I originally pegged it as cherry, but the bag has pictures of strawberries on it, so strawberry it must be.

Finally, the blue blueberry just tastes of sweetness and fruitiness. There’s a strong finish I can’t quite place – either fruit punch or blue Gatorade?

There’s nothing extraordinary about these gummis. I didn’t mind the stiff texture, though some may be annoyed. The messiness of the granuated sugar coating (it got everywhere) was a bit annoying, but I was more miffed that it was sweet rather than sour. These weren’t nearly sour enough for my taste. In fact, I didn’t find them sour at all!

I give them an O. I probably wouldn’t buy them again, even if they were on sale.

Category: gummi/gummy, Haribo, O, review, sour | 1 Comment »

Chocolate and China

January 5th, 2010 by Rosa

After Slate’s Daniel Gross complained about not being able to find a chocolate bar in China, readers weighed in on why.

Number 4 reminded me of how my parents always bring giant packs of M&Ms with them for gift-giving when they visit China.

Category: news | 2 Comments »

TCHO Chocolates

January 4th, 2010 by Rosa

TCHO chocolates have long been on my radar. I finally got to try them when my roommates were kind enough to bring me a variety pack from California. The variety pack contained 2 each of their fruity, chocolatey, nutty, and citrus flavors.

All of the squares were about 5 centimeters across the diagonal and quite thin, just half a centimeter. All were comprised of 70% cacao.

“Fruity” was made with organic and fair trade beans from Peru. It had a sharp snap with a very dry mouthfeel. There was a definite red fruit fruitiness to it, but the overall flavor was dominated by the stale taste of paper/cardboard.

At first I thought I just had an off square – I had unwrapped it to take photos and then rewrapped it for later -  but that cardboard taste pervaded the other, not-unwrapped-until-tasting-time squares.

“Chocolatey” (beans from Ghana) smelled duskier and featured strong cocoa notes and an almost savory tinge. Its mouthfeel is also dry, but it’s a bit smoother/creamier once it starts melting. The paper/cardboard taste is present in the finish.

“Nutty”, made from organic and fair trade beans from Peru, was the softest and creamiest of the bunch, and it did carry a distinctly nutty favor. But that paper tinge is still there.

Finally, “Citrus” (organic beans from Madagascar) smells sweet and has a very dry and crumbly melt. It tastes a bit chalky with a sweet bright finish, and again that infuriating, ruinous tinge of paper/cardboard taste.

I think TCHO needs to rethink their packaging on these bars, as they all took on an unpleasant, papery overtone that ruined the taste experience. I’ve had them sitting around for a few months, but bars should keep for at least that long, especially when you’re selling them in 90-day supplies.

I’m torn on how to rate these. The paper taste warrants a , but that doesn’t seem quite fair, as TCHO didn’t mean for them to taste of paper. Then again, they did choose the packaging and neglected to put a “best by” date on the package or any storage guidelines (that I could find) on their website. So the stands, with the caveat that my supply was off.

Category: --, chocolate, fair trade, organic, received as gift, review, single origin | 4 Comments »