Archive for February, 2012

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries

February 15th, 2012 by Rosa

After I reviewed Brookside‘s Dark Chocolate Goji with Raspberry, Joanne noted that Trader Joe’s had a candy called Powerberries that was similar. I saw a bag on my latest Trader Joe’s trip and picked it up to see how they compared.

The Powerberries looked similar enough to the Brookside’s from the outside – same stand-up pouch packaging, similar product images, and the same boast of being a “natural source of flavanol antioxidants”.

It was enough to make me wonder if they were made by the same manufacturer (Trader Joe’s does a lot of repackaging).

Once I opened the package, however, I noticed a few differences. Though both products were shiny panned chocolate shells around jelly discs, the Powerberries were irregularly sized.

While the Brookside Goji pieces nearly all contained two back to back discs as a center sphere, the Powerberries contained between one and three discs (though most also contained two).

In general, the chocolate layer on the Powerberries was thicker than that on the Brookside, though there was some interpiece variability in both bags. That chocolate had a nice deep cocoa duskiness to it with a little thickness and graininess to the melt.

The discs felt grainy against my tongue. They had an instant jelly give with no chewiness and tasted of strawberry preserves with a deeper blueberry finish.

I enjoyed these, but I preferred the Brookside Goji version. Those were brighter and tarter and really let the juice centers sing.

The fruit juice centers of the Powerberries were nice, but they didn’t pop as much, mostly because they had thicker layers of chocolate to fight against.

The Trader Joe’s Powerberries were $3.49 for 8 oz, while the Brookside Goji chocolates were $3.99 for 7 oz at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. At that slight price differential, I’d go with the Brookside Goji. Still, I enjoyed the Trader Joe’s, so they get an OM on their own merits.

Cybele and Sera have also reviewed these. Cybele and one of her commenters say that they’re the same as Brookside Acai with Blueberry. My guess is that Brookside sells the uniformly sized ones under their own brand, while Trader Joe’s gets the more erratically sized ones to sell.

Category: chocolate, gummi/gummy, jelly candy, OM, review, Trader Joe's | 11 Comments »

Chocolate and Wine Pairings

February 14th, 2012 by Rosa

It’s not too late to pick up a bottle of wine for tonight. The Kitchn has tips on how to pair wine with whatever chocolates that you got from/for your Valentine – or yourself!

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Hershey’s Bliss Creme de Menthe Meltaway

February 13th, 2012 by Rosa

Someone left a bag of these Creme de Menthe Meltaway Hershey’s Blisses in lab. I’ve never reviewed Hershey’s Bliss before since I’ve never found them interesting enough to buy, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to steal one for reviewing.

The Creme de Menthe Meltaway Bliss was a domed square of chocolate that came in a shiny, cheerful emerald green foil wrapper.

It was quite pretty when bitten into. The center stripe of pale mint green contrasted nicely with the brown of the chocolate.

The chocolate had a soft bite. The melt was extremely thick and had a barely perceptible grain to it.

The mint center was a soft ganache that was thick and creamy, if a little fatty feeling. The peppermintiness was noticeable but fairly mild. Definitely less intense than a York Peppermint Patty.

This Bliss was like mint chocolate chip ice cream condensed into a single bite of chocolate. It reminded me of an Andes but larger and with a more satisfying mouthfeel.

I liked it more than I thought I would, perhaps because mint chocolate chip is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. Still, I wish the mintiness was stronger, so an O.

Category: chocolate, Hershey's, mint, O, review | Comments Off on Hershey’s Bliss Creme de Menthe Meltaway

Russell Stover – Caramel

February 10th, 2012 by Rosa

Today is the last of the assorted Russell Stover chocolates that I picked up in a post-holiday sale. Monday was coconut, Wednesday was mint, and today we conclude with caramel.

The caramel is milk chocolate around a square of honey-amber colored caramel. The milk chocolate is thin and nicely shatters/crunches when bitten into.

There’s not too much of a noticeable flavor profile for the milk chocolate. It’s fairly sweet and gets swallowed up by the caramel’s more powerful flavor.

The caramel was solid when bitten into but them became sticky when chewed. It’s sweet but not too sweet and rather round and mild tasting for a burnt sugar confection.

There’s a hint of brown sugar to the caramel’s finish. It was okay, but I like my caramels scorchy and complex, while this was a sweet and simple treat.

A high O for that I’d eat again but not something that I’d buy again.



Category: caramel, chocolate, O, review, Russell Stover | Comments Off on Russell Stover – Caramel

Politically Demonizing Sugar?

February 9th, 2012 by Rosa

Via Jezebel, but all over the news lately (CNN, CBS), is a new Nature commentary piece that’s been making waves by calling for government regulation of sugar.

The authors of the piece cite evidence that excessive sugar consumption leads to adverse health consequences and can be addictive. They point out that alcohol has similar effects on the body and brain and is regulated by the government, so sugar should be similarly regulated through taxes and age limits.

Interesting that this paper and its associated hubub has come out on the heels of another well-publicized study that found no link between childhood obesity and availability of junk food (including soda and candy) in schools.

I agree that excessive sugar in the diet poses a public health problem that needs addressing, but I don’t think taxes and age limits are the solution. Would kids start getting carded when buying candy bars and cookies?

I don’t blame candy or cookies or other sweets – people know that such things have loads of sugar and can regulate (or choose not to regulate) their consumption of such goods accordingly.

I think the bigger problem is the addition of sugar (and salt and other chemically things) to processed foods where people don’t expect it to be. You’d be surprised at how much extra sugar is hidden away in things like ketchup, canned soup, or peanut butter.

It’ll be interesting to see how this line of controversy shakes out. Awareness of added salt and salt consumption is just starting to hit its stride, with some cities trying to legislate against it and many food makers pledging to cut sodium levels in their products. Do y’all think we’ll see a similar thing happen with sugar?

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Russell Stover – Mint

February 8th, 2012 by Rosa

Here’s the second in my series of assorted Russell Stover chocolate reviews. On Monday, I covered the coconut, and caramel will come on Friday. Today, we’ve got mint.

The mint came in a flat fondant filled dark-chocolate disk. They seem to be trying to emulate York Peppermint Patties, perhaps with good reason – this particular shape creates a higher ratio of chocolate to mint.

Some of my mint filling had oozed out of cracks in the chocolate by the time I opened it. The ooze was a sticky, clear liquid, which makes me think some of the invert sugar had re-liquified a tad too soon, for the remaining center filling was an opaque white fondant with the consistency of runny frosting.

That fondant was peppermint-y rather than herbaceous minty. It had a slightly bitter finish when tasted on its own and left behind a menthol cooling sensation. I found it just a bit too sweet and cloying.

The dark chocolate wasn’t as thick as it was on the coconut, but it was thicker than that of York Peppermint Patties. It had a thick melt that played off the mint while also concealing the mint’s bitter finish.

I enjoyed this, but it was a little too sweet and messy, so it gets an O.



Category: chocolate, mint, O, review, Russell Stover | Comments Off on Russell Stover – Mint

M&Ms Superbowl Commercial

February 7th, 2012 by Rosa

I’m writing this post at Superbowl halftime. Currently, this M&Ms commercial takes the cake as my favorite of the night. Yeah M&Ms naked parties!

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Russell Stover – Coconut

February 6th, 2012 by Rosa

I picked up a bag of assorted Russell Stover candy for half off in a post-Christmas sale. I guess the little bow in the top left corner was what made it holiday-y.

I think the packaging was so sparsely decorated that it needn’t have been designated a holiday-specific candy. But who am I to complain about sale candy?

There were three kinds of individually wrapped chocolates in the bag, with two each of coconut, mint, and caramel. Kind of a waste of packaging space for just six chocolates, if you ask me. Today, I’m covering the coconut, and we’ll hit the rest later this week.

The coconut was a rounded rectangle of dark chocolate filled with fluffy white coconut. The obvious comparison is with Mounds, a similar dark chocolate-covered coconut treat. How would Russell Stover’s version compare?

Pretty favorably! The dark chocolate shell was quite substantial, thick enough to provide a bit of crunch and snap. It didn’t have much of a melt, but it had surprising depth of flavor.

I was reminded of a Ghirardelli flavor profile. Lots of nice cocoa duskiness with a slightly sweet finish.

The flaky coconut paste was mild in flavor. It was lightly sweet and nutty while avoiding any of that artificial tropicalness that I associate with coconut and sunscreen.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I definitely prefer these to Mounds. Though Mounds are a bit nuttier, the Russell Stover wins out thanks to its superior quantity and quality of chocolate. An OM.

Category: chocolate, coconut, OM, review, Russell Stover | Comments Off on Russell Stover – Coconut

Hi-Chew Shikwasa (Okinawa Lemon)

February 3rd, 2012 by Rosa

My friends Nana and Justin have been having great adventures while living the expat life and chronicling it all in their awesome blog. They’ve been kind enough to send me great candy finds from abroad, including my all-time most popular review: Crunky Nude Balls.

Recently, they mailed me a bunch of Japanese candies, including this pack of Lime Shikwasa Hi-Chew. I originally thought these were lime, but Debby and Nana cleared that up in the comments. A Shikwasa is a tart Japanese citrus fruit with a green rind and golden flesh.

Also, there’s all kinds of fun stuff going on on that wrapper in addition to the Shikwasas. Nana has a great explanation in the comments.

I’ve reviewed a bunch of Hi-Chew in the past. Like all Hi-Chew, it comes in a pack of individually wrapped rectangles. The chew started off sproingy and then softened and became stickier.

These were a pale pistachio green with a white center. The flavor was amazingly juicy and spot on.

It was incredibly sweetly limey and zesty with the perfect edge of pithy bitterness. As the chew went on, the zestiness intensified and took on just a hint of herbal grassiness.

There was no sourness to it, and the sweetness level was perfect – tasty without being cloying – with just the right tidbit of bitterness to set it off.

I couldn’t stop popping these and would change nothing about them. Well, I would change one thing: bring them to the U.S. please! A ZOMG!

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chewy, Morinaga, received as gift, review, ZOMG! | 6 Comments »

International Skittles Taste Test

February 2nd, 2012 by Rosa

I’ve had US Skittles and UK Skittles and noted the differences in the flavors and colors. Here’s a blog post about a far more thorough taste test with Skittles from 4 nations. I think I need to do some more exploring of Australian candies.

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