Archive for February, 2011

Guest Post: Chinese Candy Grab Bag – White Rabbit

February 28th, 2011 by Neil

This week and into next, I’m turning the reviewing over to my friend Neil. He’s from upstate New York but is currently living in the Netherlands. Ironically enough, his guest posts are about Chinese candy.

A labmate went home to China to celebrate the New Year and brought back a lot of candy to share. I asked her to select some for me. Here were my impressions:

White Rabbit, previously rocked by a variety of contamination scandals, has kept its name in China, thereby sticking Jefferson Airplane in my head for the remainder of the day. Mildly daunted by the possibility of contamination, I remembered that despite various food aversions, I do take some risks when it comes to food safety, particularly when there are sweet rewards to be had.

The White Rabbit candy looked to me like a vanilla Tootsie Roll, a confection I haven’t seen since my move out of the U.S. Its hardness was beyond that of a Tootsie, however, and I’m unsure whether to chalk this up to this instance of the candy or if this is common.

Once upon a time, in my 8th grade Earth Science course, I learned the Mohs hardness scale for minerals. I’d say this rated a 2.5 on the Mohs.

Upon first bite, flakes of the Rabbit came off. I believe they were rice paper, but it’s a little disconcerting [note from Rosa: It is rice paper, and it's totally edible]. That bite took a lot of power.

The flavor struck me as a combination of vanilla (perhaps due to visual priming), sugar, and milk: something akin to a vanilla milkshake or Upstate Farms’ Intense Vanilla Milk. The sweetness wasn’t too intense, so it was a pleasant, even relaxing flavor.

Unfortunately, the required mastication is frustrating, taking away from my enjoyment of the candy itself. I am tempted to try another, giving the Rabbit another chance, but not before I give these other candies a chance. Solid O.

More to come from Neil on Wednesday!

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chewy, guest post, O, review | 3 Comments »

Cemoi Atelier des Gourmets

February 25th, 2011 by Rosa

I bought this box of Cemoi L’Atelier des Gourmets at Whole Foods. They were half off in a post-winter holiday sale. There were four different chocolates in the box, each with their own hoity-toity name: Kheops, Evasion, Arabica, and Coupelle.

Kheops was described as, “crunchy gianduja and whole almond.” It came in a pretty flat-topped pyramid shape with Kheops etched into the side.

The center gianduja was rather dry and pasty. It had a light, almost airy crunch that made me think there were rice crisps inside.

The chocolate and hazelnut filling tasted sweet and fruity with notes of citrus. Hitting the center whole almond bought a nuttiness to the confection, but the finish was still too fruity for my taste. An O.

Evasion was a square “hazelnut and almond praline” with leaves etched on top. It had the same citrus fruitiness of the Kheops.

The almond praline was featured in little crunchy toffee bits. They would have been a nice addition to nearly any treat, but the cloying, cocoa finish of the rest of the Evasion was off-putting enough to outweigh any praline benefit. An .

Arabica was described pretty simply as “coffee mousse.” I thought it was the most visually striking, with the contrast between the chocolate brown coffee bean (not a real bean; it was made of chocolate) and the white chocolate coating.

Biting into the Arabica revealed even more contrasts – the inside ganache was milk chocolate. It tasted lightly of coffee with a slight, almost burnt bitterness. The whole thing made me think of Mocha Frappuccinos.

The ganache was thick and, like the other chocolates in this box, a tad too sweet for my taste. Another O.

Finally, the Coupelle, which was, “crunchy chocolate mousse.” It was a pretty little fluted cup of ganache topped with crunchy chocolate sprinkles.

This was by far my favorite of the bunch. It was made with dark chocolate. It was still sweet, but not as cloying as the others, and the cocoa flavors were deeper with red fruit notes.

And it had an amazing dusky finish that made it addictive. Furthermore, those chocolate sprinkles added a nice depth of cocoa flavor. An OM.

I’m really glad that I didn’t pay full price for these chocolates, as the Coupelle is the only one that I would want to eat again. Overall, not recommended, despite all the fancy packaging and hoity-toity names.

Category: --, chocolate, coffee, nuts, O, OM | 2 Comments »

Mexican Hot Chocolate

February 24th, 2011 by Rosa

David Lebovitz is one of my favorite food bloggers. His photographs are unfailingly gorgeous, and he makes everything look and sound delicious.

His post about Mexican hot chocolate was no exception. Seriously, just try to read it and not feel a hankering for warm milk and melted chocolate.

Category: news | Comments Off

Pumpkin Pocky

February 23rd, 2011 by Rosa

I found these Pumpkin Pocky at my the local Asian grocery store in Austin, Texas. I’m a sucker for all things pumpkin, so I just had to try these.

If you’re unfamiliar with Pocky, they’re thin biscuit sticks mostly covered with a layer of chocolate or other frosting-like coating. These Pumpkin Pocky were coated with orange frosting.

The biscuit had a crisp crunch and a light buttery toastiness but was otherwise rather bland. The orange coating had the muted taste of pure pumpkin with a creamy undertone and a very mild – so mild I maybe imagined it? – tinge of cinnamon.

I really enjoyed the understated tastiness of this treat and its mix of creamy and crunchy. But again, I’m a sucker for all things pumpkin! An OM.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), cookie, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Candy – sort of

February 22nd, 2011 by Rosa

Via my friend Katie, recipes for “5 foods you never thought to candy“. I, for one, am definitely all for candied bacon.

Category: news | Comments Off

Happy Presidents’ Day!

February 21st, 2011 by Rosa

For those of you who are lucky enough to get the day off, enjoy your three day weekend! For everyone else, here are some presidential facts about chocolate, courtesy of the Historic Division of Mars.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: news | 1 Comment »

Neuhaus Truffles

February 18th, 2011 by Rosa

I recently had a couple of spare minutes around Grand Central in New York City and managed to find my way to a Neuhaus shop. I picked up 3 truffles, sold by weight, for just under $8.

I was so eager to try them that I photographed and tasted them on my shuttle bus to JFK instead of waiting until I could get them home.

First up is a Caramel Truffle, which was described as “caramel butter cream dusted with intense cocoa powder.” It had a slight chocolate shell with a dry and crumbly ganache inside.

I loved the cocoa powder that it was dusted in. It was dry and chocolatey while being totally devoid of bitterness.

The caramel ganache didn’t taste like much besides a general fruity sweetness that was a bit too heavy for my taste. I wish that there was more complexity to this. An O.

Next is the Tiramisu, “butter cream with tiramisu taste, covered with ‘Amaretti’ biscuits.” Its chocolate shell carried a nice crunch from the bits of almond amaretti cookies. I have no idea how they kept those cookies fresh and crunchy, but kudos to them for that!

The inner ganache had a thin, fatty melt. It had a strong, fruity booziness with a definite alcoholic finish that tasted of almond liqueur.

My only issue with this was that it lacked any coffee flavors. Espresso is an important part of any tiramisu recipe, so its absence was noticeable. But the truffle was pretty delicious, even without it. An OM.

Finally, what I call the Toffee Star (I couldn’t find its official name). Neuhaus has other Stars, which are described as such: “These handmade icon pralines with their very recognizable shape were created by Neuhaus in 1958 for the World Exhibition in Brussels.”

The shape was indeed distinctive, like a little dumpling or a squashed tri-corner hat. The center was a rich, buttery chocolate caramel surrounded by a thin layer of chewy toffee, all covered by a thin layer of chocolate.

The center had a bright, fruity sweetness that was tempered at the end with a dark, cocoa-y finish. Bits of toffee embedded throughout added a light crunch and a complex butterscotchiness.

The mix of flavors and textures was just divine. I found it a hair too sweet to eat all day, thus depriving it of that extra Z, but it still manages to earn an OMG!

Category: caramel, chocolate, O, OM, OMG, review, toffee | Comments Off

Probably won’t get to review this anytime soon

February 17th, 2011 by Rosa

Via the SF Weeklynews of Choco-Potamus, “super premium dark chocolate made with cannabis buds.”

I appreciate that Choco-Potamus’s Facebook page notes that it’s great for weddings and family events. But not for kids and pets!

Category: news | Comments Off

Hi-Chew Assortment – Canned Peach, Melon, Grapefruit, and Cherry

February 16th, 2011 by Rosa

Here’s a quick round-up of a bunch of Hi-Chews that I got as free samples from Tsunami.hk. If you’re not familiar with Hi-Chews, they’re like Asian Starbursts, only chewier and more genuinely flavorful.

Canned Peach is an unusual flavor for any candy. I think the Jr. part of the wrapper refers to the fact that this pack was about half the size of normal Hi-Chew packs. The chews themselves were totally normal sized.

Those chews were a pale orange color. They tasted floral and rather artificially sweet with mango undertones. I guess they’re supposed to taste less genuine because of the canned part of the name. An O.

Melon (far right in the trio) was cantaloupe flavored. Its flavor was spot on, with a melony high overtone, though I found it a bit too sweet overall. Another O.

Cherry (center in the trio) was rather blah. It had a mild red fruit flavor but was otherwise unexceptional. Yet another O.

Grapefruit had a zesty bite with that slight citrusy bitterness that’s distinctive of grapefruit. There was a hint of sweetness of this chew, but it was really all about the bite. My favorite of the bunch and a deserved OM.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chewy, Morinaga, O, OM, review | 2 Comments »

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Bourbon Balls

February 15th, 2011 by Rosa

I’m not sure if this even counts as candy, but I must share anyway: here’s a recipe for chocolate-covered peanut butter bourbon balls. You’ve got to scroll down a bit, but the pictures of the finished product are definitely worth it.

Category: news | 1 Comment »