Archive for February, 2012

Trader Joe’s Soft Peanut Brittle

February 29th, 2012 by Rosa

Happy Leap Day! If you cry, Leap Day William might bring you some candy…

This bag of Soft Peanut Brittle was yet another Trader Joe’s impulse buy for me. I think its proper name is Trader Joe’s Soft Peanut Brittle Covered in Milk Chocolate.

The bag deemed it a “flaky, crispy peanutty treat.” It came in a stand-up pouch with 8 oz of treats inside.

The actual bits weren’t nearly as pretty as they looked on the package. The package depicted milk chocolate covered rectangles striped with contrasting dark chocolate.

In reality, my domino-sized brittles came out of the bag rather scuffed. The stripes and coating looked to be the same shade of semisweet chocolate brown to me.

The center brittle was a mix of pale golden brown and white. It snapped cleanly and sharply when bitten into.

I think the center was mostly sugar was small bits of peanut inside. It shattered into thin flakes stacked on top of each other. After chewing, the brittle got embedded in my molars.

The flavor started with a mild sugary sweetness before being taken over by a strong peanutiness. That nutty flavor was heavy with the thickness of peanut butter. It finished with a flash of saltiness that set everything off quite nicely.

The chocolate was mostly overshadowed by the sweet brittle center. It added just a bit of cocoa duskiness.

These were a touch too sweet for my taste, and a few pieces were too heavy on the salt. I also wished for some more burnt sugar complexity to the brittle, but I found them enjoyable enough nonetheless.

I think they’d  be great with ice cream, as the back of the bag suggests. An O.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | No Comments »

Boozy Caramel Bonbons

February 28th, 2012 by Emma

This Serious Eats recipe for boozy vanilla caramels sounds absolutely decadent. Unfortunately, it also seems pretty complicated and requires a candy mold and candy thermometer, two tools that I don’t own. If you try it, please do send me some?

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Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Squares

February 27th, 2012 by Rosa

When I was checking out, my Trader Joe’s cashier commented on this tub of their Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Squares. She said it was one of her favorites.

The tub contained 9.5 ounces of square tiles of dark chocolate studded “with marshmallows and peanuts.” The squares were irregularly sized, with some more rectangular than square.

The peanut pieces were yellow and most were no bigger than a quarter peanut. The white marshmallow bits were similarly sized and looked more like crisped rice to me.

The chocolate had a thick snap and a non-smooth melt. It was on the sweet side for dark chocolate with a dusky, sweet finish.

The peanuts brought a mild nuttiness, while the marshmallows added a hint of sweetness and a light grainy crunch. Again, they were basically like rice crisps rather than marshmallow.

I thought these were okay, but they’re far from my favorite thing that Trader Joe’s makes, and I won’t buy them again. The add-ins were too mild to make much of a flavor difference and got lost in the mix. An O.

Category: chocolate, marshmallow, nuts, O, review, Trader Joe's | No Comments »

Women and Chocolate Stereotypes

February 24th, 2012 by Rosa

Slate has a fun piece and accompanying slide show about how chocolate has been marketed towards women over the years. Kind of the opposite tack that Nestle Yorkie‘s taken.

Best line? “Though the notion that women become raging sluts at the sight of chocolate is relatively new, the relationship between chocolate and sex isn’t.”

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Boozy Hot Chocolate

February 23rd, 2012 by Rosa

Serious Eats has a list of seven ways to spike your hot chocolate. Try them all before it gets too warm!

That salted butterscotch sounds great – way classier than the peppermint schnaps + powdered cocoa mix I used to down at college football games.

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King-Sized No More

February 22nd, 2012 by Rosa

I’ve been battling a cold for a while and ran out of stored tasting notes. I won’t be able to write more reviews until I get my sense of taste back – how I miss being able to breathe through my nose! – so y’all get bonus news posts until then.

Via my friend Matt and NPR, news that Mars will stop making King Sized candy bars by the end of next year. Instead, they’ll sell them in pairs or fours of smaller bars.

It’s a small change, but I’m all for it. 3 Musketeers has been sold like that for a while, and it’s nice to have one for eating and one for sharing or saving.

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Chow Chocolate-Maker Series

February 21st, 2012 by Emma

Chow recently had a couple of great profiles of American chocolate makers. Check out their pieces on Colin Gasko, who’s making chocolate from wild cacao, and Scott Winthrow of Nashville’s Olive and Sinclair.

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Sweetly Demented Chocolate/Raspberry Brains

February 20th, 2012 by Rosa

It’s always fun when candy has some personality. Sweetly Demented is a homegrown candy shop that sells an assortment of creepy and freaky candies.

I recently received some free samples of their “We All Think Terrible Thoughts,” which are 60% bittersweet chocolate brains filled with a raspberry ganache.

The sizeable brains (about two inches long and an inch and a half across) were sparkly pinkish-purple molded chocolates with well-defined sulci and gyri. They smelled sweet and fruity.

The bottom base of the shell was thick with a nice snap while the upper shell was thin. The ganache center, in contrast, was smooth but didn’t quite melt in my mouth.

The chocolate had a nice bit of spiciness to it that finished with a dry cocoa flavor. The ganache center had a similar spiciness with a light fruitiness that had just a tinge of artificialness.

I thought they were tasty and fun, though I would’ve preferred if they were just straight chocolate. At $6/6, they’re not cheap, though each brain is too sizeable to eat in one go.

I wouldn’t buy them for the flavor alone. For creative, nerdy neuroscience decorative purposes, however, they’re great. An O.

 

Category: chocolate, novelty, O, review | 2 Comments »

Choco Roll – Pudding

February 17th, 2012 by Rosa

The last time I tried Choco Roll in their Taro flavor, it just didn’t work for me. Though my palate grew up eating lots of Chinese food, I couldn’t stand the Asian starchy root as a dessert.

Recently, I came across a box of Choco Roll in a Pudding variety. Now that’s a flavor that I can get behind!

The Chinese characters for pudding are a straight phonetic translation, a clear indication that “pudding” is a Western import.

The box pictures both a milk chocolate truffle and a delectable looking flan, so I guess they took some liberties in that importing process.

My box contained seven individually wrapped Choco Rolls. Each was a cream filled wafer cookie straw coated in milk chocolate.

The chocolate layer was quite thin. It was mild with little flavor or character and had a slight greasiness to it.

I think it was made with some sort of vegetable fat rather than cocoa butter. A look at the ingredients confirmed my hunch: palm oil and butter, but no cocoa butter.

The wafer cookie was nicely airy and crisp. Though it had the soft and easily crumbling texture of egg roll cookies, the flavor was more that of fortune cookies, minus that crunchy staleness that fortune cookies get.

The center cream filling was rather gritty with no creaminess. It was kind of pasty and fluffy, like dry mashed potatoes.

That cream filling was mildly sweet. It tasted pretty neutrally of dairy cream and left a fatty feeling on my tongue and lips.

I enjoyed these more than the Taro version, but I didn’t enjoy them enough to want to buy them again. I blame the packaging – it had me expecting creamy chocolate truffles and caramelized flan but only delivered neutral sweetness that was boring by comparison.

For that, it gets an O. And I’ve now got flan cravings.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, O, review | No Comments »

Candy Meets Brain Science!

February 16th, 2012 by Rosa

Via Dan Ariely’s blog, a new study has found that “Relative visual saliency differences induce sizeable bias in consumer choice [pdf]“.

Why am I featuring a marketing study on this blog? Because they use candy as their stimuli! Here’s how it went down:

Scientists manipulated the visual saliency of different pairs of snack food items, including candies, by increasing the brightness of one of the photos of each pair.

When participants had only slight preferences, they tended to choose the product that had the brightest photo, even when they preferred it slightly less to the other available option. When their preferences were strong, however, they were less susceptible to the brightness manipulation.

Furthermore, when participants were distracted by having an additional task to perform, they were more easily manipulated by the differences in relative brightness. We are such chumps!

What can we learn from this study? Don’t multitask while shopping – if you’re distracted, you’re more vulnerable to marketing manipulations. And have strong choice preferences before you see your choices.

That’s why candy reviews blogs are so great! We can give you an idea of what to buy based on the actual candy rather than its packaging.

 

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