Archive for April, 2010

Almond Joy Pieces

April 30th, 2010 by Rosa

I thought I nabbed a candy scoop with these Almond Joy Pieces. A quick Google revealed that, they’ve been out for nearly a year now, and Candy Addict and Candy Blog‘s already covered them! Guess it just took me a while to come across them in stores.

Hershey’s basically extrapolated their Reese’s Pieces concept to other candy bars (there are also Special Dark and York Pieces). The Almond Joy Pieces were described on the bag as “milk chocolate, coconut, and almond candy in a crunchy shell.”

While most of them were generally oblate spheroids, quite a few of them were wonkily shaped, and even the nicer ones were a little bumpy around the edges. I think this may be due to the bits of almond and coconut in the chocolate.

The shells were super crispy and loudly crunched in my mouth. They came in blue, brown, and cream.

The Pieces tasted of super sweet chocolate with coconut and an underlying nuttiness. The coconut had a nice floral finish. Every once in a while, I hit an almond-heavy Piece in which the almond overpowered the coconut.

There was a definite grittiness when the Pieces were nearly gone, due to the bits of almond and flakes of coconut. But the grittiness wasn’t unpleasant by any means, and there was never a risk of stuff getting lodged in my teeth.

I wish they were a tad less sweet, but otherwise, it’s a great mix of flavors, and I loved the crunchiness of the Pieces. They were poppable and tasty, and they crunched beautifully. An OMG.

Category: chocolate, coconut, Hershey's, nuts, OMG, review | 7 Comments »

NPR talks licorice

April 29th, 2010 by Rosa

NRP has a nice piece about licorice and vegetables/herbs that taste of licorice. I love this quote from it:

“I have always felt that the flavor of licorice overstays its welcome, like a chatty visitor whose friendliness turns out to disguise a monologuing narcissist.”

It didn’t change my mind about my distaste for licorice, but it was still a nice read!

Category: news | No Comments »

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews – Original Dark and Milk Chocolatey

April 28th, 2010 by Rosa

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews used to be a mostly regional treat. When Just Born (most famous for their Peeps) bought them in 2003, they greatly expanded where it was sold. I found my bags at a dollar store here in Rochester.

Peanut Chews are peanuts in caramel and coated in a thin layer of dark or milk “chocolate”. Not much chocolate is actually in those layers – the ingredients list for both types have cocoa powder but also hydrogenated palm kernel oil.

Still, both chews were pleasant enough. The Milk Chocolatey bar’s “chocolate” flavor was barely noticeable and mostly imparted a light sweetness.

The caramel inside came across as rather dry because it was so chock full of peanuts, but it also had a pleasant, lasting chewiness. The caramel took a few chews to dissolve, but it didn’t get annoyingly stuck in my teeth.

In addition to being sweet and peanutty, the milk’s filling was also very salty. Too salty, in my opinion. Still, the bar wasn’t bad, like a Snickers without the nougat.

The dark version had the same chewy caramel and peanut filling, but it wasn’t as salty, and the “chocolate” coating wasn’t as sweet. I initially thought the sweeter milk coating just made the filling seem saltier by comparison, but then I checked the nutrition panel.

The milk version had 90 mg/sodium per 3 mini-bar serving, while the dark version had only 55 mg/sodium for the same serving size. I’m not sure why they made the milk version so much saltier, but I much preferred the better balanced dark chews.

Considering the fact that I’m not a big fan of peanutty sweets, I rather enjoyed these, and my friends did as well. They’re not a fine gourmet good, but they make for a nice treat. An O.

Category: caramel, chocolate, Just Born, nuts, O, review | No Comments »

Haggis Chocolate – Just a Deceptive Headline

April 27th, 2010 by Rosa

Via the Facebook page of Hedonist Artisan Chocolates comes a story of a Scottish chocolatier who is making haggis chocolates.

Alas, the gross-out isn’t as gross as story’s headline would lead you to believe:

Ellingham does not use actual haggis in the chocolate truffles, but instead blends spices including nutmeg, mace and black pepper, as well as oatmeal, in order to recreate the distinctive flavour of haggis.

That doesn’t sound so bad, actually. But just you wait – someday the bacon+chocolate trend just might evolve into an offal+chocolate trend.

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Trader Joe’s Citrus Gum Drops

April 26th, 2010 by Rosa

Every time I visit my boyfriend’s Boston home, I make ask him to take me to Trader Joe’s, as they always have an assortment of neat packaged foods. The last time I went, I picked up a bunch of new candy loot, and their Citrus Gum Drops are first up to be reviewed.

The gum drops came in a cheerful nature-themed bag that invoked eco-friendly associations. I don’t think the candies are as such, as the first ingredient is corn syrup, but I still appreciated the aesthetic.

I love citrus fruits and citrus-flavored candies, so I had high expectations for these gum drops. They come in tangerine, pink grapefruit, lemon, and key lime.

Each gum drop was about the size of the first joint of my pinky finger. They were all covered in sweet granulated sugar and had sticky-soft chews. That is, they yielded immediately upon being bitten into but still stuck to my teeth, just a tad.

Tangerine was expectedly orange colored. Its actual orange flavor, however, was unexpectedly dark. It tasted deeply of orange oil and lacked the bright citrus flavor that most orange gummi candies have.

Pink grapefruit was a purplish-pink. It tasted sweet at first bite before the grapefruit acid flavor came out. It’s not the best grapefruit gummi I’ve had, but it was a solid effort.

Lemon was yellow and sweet with no tartness. It tasted of lemon zest and had a light edge of bitter pith, which brought a wonderful complexity.

Finally, the white key lime was my favorite (to eat, at least. Its lack of color threw off the color balance of the photo!). But it perfectly encapsulated the flavor of fresh limes. It tasted extremely zesty and limey and had a bitter undertone that set off the whole thing quite nicely.

Trader Joe’s Citrus Gum Drops are a great flavor mix and a cut above “normal” gum drops. Better yet, the price point is awesome – $1.99 for an 8 oz bag. An OM.

Category: gummi/gummy, jelly candy, OM, review, Trader Joe's | 1 Comment »

Life Savers Fruiteria

April 23rd, 2010 by Rosa

This bag of Life Savers Fruiteria caught my attention with its splashy NEW! sign. It kept my attention with an adventurous selection of flavors that included passion fruit and papaya.

It seems that globalization and foodie-ism has trickled down to this once basic brand that started out as a peppermint.

In addition to passion fruit and papaya, the bag also included strawberry, pineapple, and mandarin orange.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Life Savers, they’re life preserver-shaped hard candies that come in mint and fruit flavors. The original 5 flavors were lemon, lime, orange, cherry, and pineapple, so this Fruiteria version represents a 4/5 departure… 3/5 if you consider mandarin orange and orange to be interchangeable.

Strawberry was opaque-with-a-hint-of-translucent pink. It tasted sweet and floral, with a great berry finish.

Pineapple was nearly white and the lightest colored of the bunch. It sweetly captured the essence of pineapple flavor, which I associate with pineapple cores, and had a nice, round flavor.

Mandarin orange was a light, translucent orange. It tasted of bright, tangy tangerines. In the spectrum of candy orange flavors, this was heavy on the tart and easy on the mellow, whereas I believe the original orange Life Saver is more mellow than tart.

A deeply purple O turned out to be passion fruit. I usually associate passion fruit with its yellow innards, but I suppose the purple made for a more striking Saver.

It tasted like a mild raspberry, sweet without much seediness, with a tinge of citrus. I was impressed at how complex the flavor was.

Finally, papaya was orange-colored with a tinge of salmon. It was the only one of the bag that was solidly opaque.

To me, it didn’t taste like fresh papaya, which I usually find rather lightly flavored and thus underwhelming. Instead, I got peachy floral tones with a mango bite and a mellow orange finish. I prefer the Life Saver take!

I really should keep these in my work drawer instead of my current assortment of chocolate Easter candy bought on sale. They’re a great sweet fix, and I wouldn’t chomp through them as quickly as I do chocolate.

Fruiteria (what does that mean, anyway?) presented a nice mix of flavors. I didn’t dislike any of them, and I really liked the mandarin orange and the non-papaya papaya. An OM.

Category: hard candy, Life Savers, OM, review, Wrigley's | 1 Comment »

Another Take on Tempering

April 22nd, 2010 by Rosa

Serious Eats has a step-by-step guide to how to temper chocolate over the stove. Like with Mark Bittman’s piece, I appreciate the instructions, but I still find microwaving chocolate (small chunks of time, checking and stirring lots in between) to be way easier and a far less daunting task.

I love this comment on the Serious Eats piece from VerySmallAnna:

“This is a great piece! When I learned tempering in school we were told that the microwaving method was VERY advanced because it’s so easy to burn the chocolate. I guess they assumed we’d just turn the microwave on and walk away or something…”

I think it’s funny that a microwaving method of doing anything is considered advanced!

Category: news | No Comments »

Chocomize Bar II

April 21st, 2010 by Rosa

I wrote about my purposefully strange Chocomized bar on Monday. Today, I’m writing about the free sample bar that I Chocomized with the hopes that it would taste good: dark chocolate with currants, dried raspberries, and sea salt.

As with Monday’s bar, Chocomize was super generous with the toppings. They were well distributed, so it was again tricky to find a piece of plain chocolate for tasting.

The dark chocolate was extremely snappy, with sweet cocoa flavors and a little fruitiness. It was nice quality, if not maximally complex, so it made a good staging ground for the toppings.

The sea salt flakes were quite large. They really made their presence known when I came across them. Each flake brought a bright flash of sour and sweet. With the larger ones, a bit of saltiness actually came through loud and clear.

I was really excited about the currants. They’re a common candy/juice flavor in the U.K. but have yet to catch on in the U.S. Alas, these currants taste like tiny raisins, minus the chewiness. While they were fine and dandy as is, I missed the expected extra complexity and edge of currants.

I loved the dried raspberries, though. They were beautiful and adorable, like the shrunken head equivalent of fresh raspberries (tangential note: a Google image search of shrunken head ain’t pretty), and were chewy, seedy, and tasted darkly red.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how this bar turned out. And I’m pleased with the quality of Chocomize’s work. The base chocolates are tasty and the toppings are fresh and generous. If the toppings don’t work with the base chocolate, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Like Chocri, the bars don’t come cheap, but you pay a premium because they’re handmade. If you want to try them for 10% less of a premium, Chocomize has kindly set up a discount code for y’all, dear readers. Entering “ZOMG” as a coupon code, without quotes, will net you 10% off your total order!

Category: chocolate, review | No Comments »

Candy Apps for your iProducts

April 20th, 2010 by Rosa

Candy Dish Blog has a round-up of five candy-related iProduct apps. Any volunteers out there who’d teach me how to turn my blog into an app? It would be neat to have one, just for blogging bragging rights.

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Chocomize Bar I

April 19th, 2010 by Rosa

Chocomize is a U.S. based candy company that lets you make personalized chocolate bars that “are handmade to order”. They’re the second customized chocolate company I’ve gotten to try free samples from (Chocri was the first; I think Chocomize has them beat on name cuteness).

You start with your choice of base chocolate: a 56.8% dark, a 33.6% milk, and a white chocolate. On top of that, you can add up to 5 toppings from over 100 choices, which are categorized as nuts & seeds, fruits, herbs & spices, candy, decorations, and other.

If you were wondering, the other category includes veggie bacon, potato chips, and beef jerky.

I made one “let’s see what rando toppings I can gather” bar and one “I think this will be lovely” bar. We’ll do the weird one first and save the more normal one for Wednesday.

My weird bar was milk chocolate with honey roasted soybeans, Corn Nuts, and crystallized mint leaves. As you can see, it was crazy generously topped with all of the above.

The toppings were so jam packed that it was hard to find a plain bite of just milk chocolate to taste. I think I wound up picking off a Corn Nut or two.

The milk chocolate snapped when broken (the bar is lightly segmented on the back) but was thick on the tongue. It had strong caramel notes, which is just how I like my milk chocolate.

Chocomize claimed that the “crunchy corn nuts have a slightly salty taste and are surprisingly good when combined with chocolate.” I wanted to believe them, but alas, the flavor and texture combination just didn’t work for me.

The Corn Nuts retained a strong corny flavor with a bitter burnt popcorn finish, and their texture reminded me of stale tortilla chips. They’ve got their charms as a standalone snack, but I don’t think they did the chocolate any favors, or vice-versa.

The soybeans were okay on their own – gritty with a pleasantly dry nuttiness and a touch of sweet caramelized sugar – and they were okay with the chocolate, though it wasn’t a synergistic match. But the corniness of the Corn Nuts overshadowed the more subtle flavor of the soybeans.

As for the crystallized mint… It looked so pretty and sparkly and green! And it tasted that way too: grainy and sugary, with an herbal, grassy finish. I wasn’t a fan.

I set out to make a weird bar that would be a tasting adventure, and I definitely got one. I didn’t expect it to taste good, though I had sort of hoped that Corn Nuts + chocolate would be some new undiscovered flavor sensation, and it didn’t. But it’s also entirely my fault and my choice that this guy tasted all funky.

Would I have made this bar if I actually had to pay for it myself? Probably not. But thems the perks of being a candy blogger! Come back on Wednesday for my review of a Chocomize bar that I made with the intent of having it taste good.

And if you want to get a Chocomized bar for yourself, they’ve kindly set up a discount code for y’all. “ZOMG” (without the quotes) as a coupon code will take 10% off your total order!

Category: chocolate, nuts, review | No Comments »