Archive for April, 2010

Kinder Bueno White

April 16th, 2010 by Rosa

My friend Neil just got back from a trip to the Netherlands and was kind and awesome enough to bring me back a bunch of Dutch chocolates. When he handed me this Kinder Bueno White bar, he noted that I’d reviewed the regular version but not the white one, a blog fact that I didn’t know at the time. November 2007 was a long time ago!

Everything on the wrapper was written in both Dutch and French. My French isn’t that great, but I got that these were made with milk and hazelnuts, and I’d loosely translate the description as “two individually wrapped bars of white chocolate and cocoa meringue bits”.

The underside of the bars were coated with these little crunchy cocoa beads, and each of the four segments wore a stripe of the beads as well. While I think they were called meringues, they tasted like cocoa powder cookies.

The outer shells were airy, crisp wafers that provided structural stability and a pleasant crunch. Each segment pod was filled with an amazingly thick and creamy white chocolate filling.

The tasted strongly of milk and vanilla and was reminiscent of really high quality frosting. I didn’t get any hazelnut flavors, but I didn’t really care.

The filling was quite sweet, but it was nicely tempered by that wafer shell. It’s basically a non-cute version of the biscuit Kinder Happy Hippo, but with chocolate sprinkle/cookie bits.

The Kinder Bueno White was tasty and delicious (thanks, Neil!). I rated it an OM before I reread my old Happy Hippo review and saw that the Hippo version earned my highest rating. Looks like presentation does count for a lot!

Category: cookie, European, Ferrero, OM, received as gift, review, white chocolate | No Comments »

Nestle’s PR Woes

April 15th, 2010 by Rosa

About a month ago, Nestle found itself the target (note: sort of graphic photo near the bottom of the linked page) of a guerilla campaign. Greenpeace decided to take Nestle to task for buying palm oil from a producer that’s allegedly destroying rain forest habitats.

They made a graphic “Give me a break”-commercial parody with a man unwrapping a Kit-Kat (licensed to Nestle outside of the U.S.), breaking off a primate finger instead of a chocolate one, and biting into it with bloody results. I won’t embed it here because it’s pretty icky, but you can see it at the above link.

Nestle did a rather poor job of reacting to the campaign by having Greenpeace’s video pulled from YouTube, which only garnered Greenpeace more publicity. Nestle’s Facebook page exploded with angry comments.

In the end, Greenpeace sort of won, as Nestle capitulated and committed to using certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. Still, the angry Facebook comments haven’t stopped, so Nestle’s got some more PR work ahead of them.

All that is wonderful news for the planet and its apes, but the candy blogger in me wants to point out – palm oil shouldn’t be in chocolate in the first place! Cocoa butter should be lipid enough, but alas, palm oil is cheaper.

Category: news | 2 Comments »

Life Savers Gummies – Sweet Strings N Sour Rings

April 14th, 2010 by Rosa

The candy blogger in me is hyper-attuned to candy packaging that indicates that its contents are a new product. The pseudo-grammar nazi in me is hyper-attuned to instances of annoyingly unnecessary abbreviations. Thus, Life Savers* Sweet Strings N Sour Rings doubly caught my eye.

Actually, that’s only sort of true. There’s a lot going on on the front of this bag! So I didn’t notice the “New” splotch and the irksome “N” until I was photographing it.

Blatantly obvious statement of the day: the hook with these guys is that there are two types of gummies. The strings are sweet – raspberry and cherry to be precise – while the rings are sour – fruit punch and green apple.

I was a little disappointed that the strings were straight sticks instead of the jaunty S curves depicted on the bag. Luckily, my disappointment was tempered by the discovery of a single mutant ring that was doubly flavored – a chimera, if you will.

The strings were on the softer side of the gummi texture spectrum, with no bounce and a pretty yielding give. They were coated with sweet sugar.

Cherry (the darker red) was mellow and floral with a plasticky/artificial undertone, while raspberry was very sweet with a seedier, less floral taste than that of the cherry.

The rings had a bouncier chew to them. They were covered in sour sugar that was actually noticeably sour. Hooray!

After the sourness dissipated, green apple mellowed out into a round sweetness. Fruit punch, while blue, tasted like a red fruit punch. Hawaiian, to be exact.

The only flavor that I really actively enjoyed was the sour fruit punch. The rest were fine in terms of flavor strength, but the individual flavors weren’t my personal favorites, so the bag, which I did eventually finish, gets an O.

*Life Savers is officially two words, but even Amazon thinks that it’s one word!

Category: gummi/gummy, Life Savers, O, review, sour, Wrigley's | 2 Comments »

Giant Jawbreaker Saga

April 13th, 2010 by Rosa

I’ve often seen giant jawbreakers in candy stores, but I didn’t think anyone actually bought them, much less ate them. Well, I was wrong.

Via Serious Eats, a blogger that was brave of tongue and flush with patience actually licked all the way through one of the monstrous things and documented the whole process with clever commentary and stunning photos.

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Quinoa – Midnight Crunch

April 12th, 2010 by Rosa

When I met my sweetie in Saratoga Springs*, our wanderings about that cute little town took us into a natural food store. This Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Quinoa (aka Midnight Crunch, hidden under that hefty price tag) bar caught my eye, as I’d never seen quinoa and chocolate together. At nearly $5 with tax, it was definitely a splurge, but one that I couldn’t pass up.

Alter Eco is a brand that’s only recently made its way onto my radar. They’re a Fair Trade organization that’s also carbon neutral, and I believe all of their stuff is organic as well. This bar was all three.

The back of the box describes this bar as, “A crispy chocolate like no other. Made with cacao and quinoa from Bolivia, Alter Eco Dark Quinoa chocolate brings together ancient ingredients from indigenous Andeans.”

As you can see, the bottom of the bar is heavily studded with bulging spheres of quinoa. While I could easily see it, however, I couldn’t taste it. Or if I was tasting it, it just tasted like crisped rice – the ingredients list calls it “rice-quinoa crisps”, so maybe it was all just one crispy entity that I was eating.

No matter. While the crisps added a nice little airy crunch, the real star here is the chocolate. At 61% cacao, it’s quite snappy.

It started off with dusky cocoa notes, then a fruity sweetness emerged along with notes of caramel and coffee, until the chocolate disappeared, leaving me with that lovely fruitiness in a lingering finish.

I could take it or leave it with the quinoa crisps, but the chocolate I could eat all day. It was satisfying yet kept me reaching for more. As always, I’m amazed at how much flavor complexity can come from just cocoa mass, cane sugar, and cocoa butter.

The bar earned itself a ZOMG! The next time I’m feeling flush and in the mood for a candy splurge, I’m going to check out more of the Alter Eco line.

Finally, for those who care about these sorts of things, the bar is soy-free, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan, and without artificial flavors or emulsifiers.

*For the record, I don’t often refer to the boyfriend as my sweetie, but the alliteration was too good to pass up

Category: chocolate, fair trade, organic, review, ZOMG! | No Comments »

Boozy Lindt Capsules

April 9th, 2010 by Rosa

I bought a trio of booze-filled Lindt bars two summers ago in Cambridge, England. Whisky is pictured below; the other two were Irish Coffee and Cointreau. While I tasted the chocolates soon after I bought them, it took me until now to get around to writing about them.

Why the wait? Because every single one of the three bars that I had just shelled out quite a bit of dough for turned out to be all dried up when I opened them! I sent Lindt an email to complain, and while I waited for the response that never came, I forgot about them.

When I opened them, the chocolates appeared to be pristine. They looked like a pill-pack of chocolate, and each Lindt-stamped capsule looked unblemished and, I imagined, full of the promised “liquid filling.”

This was the summer of 2008, and the bars were marked as being good until April and May 2009. But when I chomped into the capsules, the insides were all dried up and crystallized. Boo.

I’m not sure if they were supposed to be like that, or if the posh (and pricey!) shop that I bought them from stored them incorrectly, or if Lindt was overly optimistic with their sell-by dates, but I was sorely disappointed. They promised liquid fillings. Of booze!

Maybe now’s a good time to add the aside that I was 20 this summer and earnestly learning about the cultural differences between the U.S. and the U.K. No open container laws; cheap and plentiful beers, ales, and ciders; and I never once got carded.

Anyway, the decidedly non-liquid fillings had lost their flavor along with their moisture. Cointreau was maybe tinged with orange, and Whisky had a nearly imperceptible alcoholic finish, but they otherwise just tasted like milk chocolate that was maybe a tad sweeter than usual.

In the state that I got these, they deserve a . And Lindt gets the same for their (lack of) customer service. As far as I know, they’re not available in the U.S., but they seem to still be sold in the U.K., and with a few more flavors on offer.

Category: --, chocolate, European, Lindt, review | 2 Comments »

Chocolate tasting with the NCA

April 8th, 2010 by Rosa

Candy Dish Blog, the blog of the NCA (National Confectioners Association had a couple of posts up about chocolate tasting and how chocolate is made with Jacques Torres (aka Mr. Chocolate). Turns out those videos were made by the NCA’s Chocolate Council as part of a promotional effort to encourage chocolate tasting.

I got a fun and free chocolate tasting kit in my surprise press kit, filled with chocolates of varying cacao percentages. If you haven’t tried chocolate tasting before, I highly recommend it! Tasting parties are easy to throw – just pick up a few different bars and line up some friends with willing taste buds.

I love tasting the subtle differences in chocolate flavors that you may miss if you’re not tasting them next to other bars that provide immediate contrasts. Those differences all come from the beans themselves or the ratios of cocoa butter and cocoa solids to other ingredients – amazing!

Category: news | No Comments »

Hachez Cocoa D’Arriba Blackberry and Cocoa Nibs

April 7th, 2010 by Rosa

Like many random chocolate bars that I wind up buying for review, this Blackberry and Cocoa Nibs bar from Hachez wound up in my cart because it was on sale at Wegmans.

Alas, Wegmans should have just taken it off the shelves instead of selling it at a discount, as my bar arrived covered in bloom (though, to give Wegmans the benefit of the doubt, there was no marked sell-by date, so it’s on-sale-ness could have been a coincidence that was unrelated to its condition).

In its bloomed incarnation, the 77% cacao bar was snappy, dry, and crumbly. Bright berry flavors came out in the middle of the flavor progression before giving way to a cocoa bitterness from the added nibs.

I decided to microwave a bit of the bar, to see if I could reconstitute some of the flavors by messing with the texture. I heated a couple of rectangles until their undersides were melted but their top halves were still solid.

The texture of the chocolate went from unpleasantly dry to a smooth – though not creamy – melt. The sweet and tart taste of berries came through much more strongly and sang as a top note over the slight bitterness brought by the grains of cacao nibs.

I don’t think I can fairly rate this bar because I got in imperfect form, but the tasty melted version made me think I’d like it in its normal state. I’ll have to try it again sometime. For now, it gets at least an O. And Wegmans gets a finger wag.

Category: chocolate, O, review | 2 Comments »

Got Leftover Peeps?

April 6th, 2010 by Rosa

If you have leftover Peeps from your Easter baskets, or if you’ve stocked up on them in post-Easter candy sales, why not turn them into Peepshi (Peeps sushi), Peeps Krispie Treats, or make them into a sandwich?

Or save them for next year’s Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest. This year’s crop of winning entries was pretty stunning, but I agree with some commenters that the winning Eep entry (a play on Pixar’s Up) seemed better suited for a dollhouse contest than a Peeps one. While the construction of the house was crazy impressive, I felt that other dioramas used Peeps more cleverly.

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Grape Vines

April 5th, 2010 by Rosa

Red Vines were not a childhood candy of mine. In fact, I never heard of them until they were proclaimed “crazy delicious” in The Chronic(WHAT?)Cles of Narnia (tangent: man, rewatching that takes me back to my freshman year of college, back when YouTube was new and video shorts were novel).

I recently got the chance to try Grape Vines, the grape-flavored corollary to Red Vines (another tangent: does that mean Red Vines are red-flavored? Wikipedia is vague about exactly what the flavor is), via some free samples.

The most notable thing about the Grape Vines was their smell. It was strong! And wonderfully artificially grape-y, like popsicles.

The vines were striated and spiraling, with a deep purple stain. They were stiff yet pliable and totally tie-in-a-knot-able.

Taste-wise, they were less exciting. They were chewy and wheaty and a little plasticky, and, alas, they didn’t taste nearly as good as they smelled.

I found them devoid of grape flavors. Instead, they had a generic sweetness that wasn’t unpleasant but also wasn’t that exciting.

In the end, they were pretty innocuous. I put them out at work, and on one occasion, I found myself grabbing one because it looked and smelled so tempting. But then after eating an inch, I felt no need to finish my vine and tossed the rest.

An O. If you’re a Red Vine fan, you’d probably enjoy these, and they may make for good mindless snacking. They were too devoid of flavor to me. Cybele reviewed them and gave them a benign rating.

Category: O, review | 5 Comments »