Archive for April, 2012

Okinawa Brown Sugar Candy

April 30th, 2012 by Rosa

My expat friends, Nana and Justin, sent me a bag of Okinawa Brown Sugar Candy in their last generous shipment of foreign candies. At first I thought that making sugar-flavored candy was strange, but then I realized it’s not that different from honey candies or straight up shooting honey sticks.

The prettily matte bag was mostly covered in Japanese. I was able to recognize the character for bamboo on the top right corner, but otherwise I had to rely on the English letters to know what it contained.

The back of the bag described them as “Nature’s blessed ‘Okinawa Kokuto (brown sugar)’ made from sugar cane grown in Okinawa”. I think that makes them a regional specialty.

The candies were individually wrapped in plastic that echoed the bamboo motif of the larger bag. They were smooth flat cylinders, like butterscotch hard candies.

The candies and their melt was perfectly smooth on the tongue, with nary an air bubble to break its glossy surface. The flavor was simple – that of dark brown sugar, sweet with a burnt molasses edge to keep it from being cloying.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed such a simple treat. They didn’t taste revolutionary, but if you’ve ever sneaked a pinch of brown sugar while baking or making oatmeal, you’d enjoy these. An OM.

 

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), hard candy, OM, received as gift, review | 3 Comments »

Sweets and Snacks Expo 2012

April 27th, 2012 by Rosa

Dear Readers,

Thanks to finals time, I wasn’t able to get my act together enough to have a review ready for you today. I am, however, ready to put you to work! In just over a week, I will be attending the Sweets and Snacks Expo for the first time!

What’s the Sweets and Snacks Expo? It’s the annual candy (and now snacks) trade show, where candy makers show off their wares so that candy sellers will want to buy and resell them. Candy press (that’s me!) gets to go too. Homer Simpson is no longer invited.

There will be over 550 exhibitors this year, and as much as I want to taste ALL the things, I probably won’t be able to. I’ll obviously hit up the big guys, like Ritter, Jelly Belly, Albanese, Hershey’s, and Mars, but I need y’all to tell me who else to see.

There’s a searchable exhibitor list  and interactive map. Leave a comment if there’s anyone you want me to visit, and I’ll report back. I’ll also tweet from the Expo @zomgcandy.

If you want more info on the Expo from a candy blogger’s point of view, check out Cybele’s thorough guideposts (harhar).

Category: news | 6 Comments »

Have the Mast Brothers met their match in the Berley Brothers?

April 26th, 2012 by Rosa

Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers may have tremendous old-timey beards, but I think the Berley Brothers at Philly’s Shane Confectionary, along with their traditional candy making recipes, may give them a run for their money. Via Chow.com.

Below photo from their Facebook page.

Category: news | No Comments »

French Broad Chocolate Redux – Part 2

April 25th, 2012 by Rosa

Here’s part 2 of my re-review of French Broad Chocolates (part 1 ran on Monday). This review is on fresh truffles sent from French Broad Chocolates as free samples, while the original ones (part 1 and part 2) were on truffles purchased at A Southern Season, a candy reseller.

Canela Picante was described as “cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and 73% cacao bittersweet chocolate.” Alas, its outer chile dusting didn’t stay put and migrated to some of my other truffles, lending them some extra heat. You can see it in the close-up of the pomegranate ginger below.

I usually love chile chocolate, but I wasn’t able to handle more than one bite of this truffle. It was just too spicy and left me in tongue-tingling pain.

If you have more heat mojo, you may like this, but it was too much for me. An O for the experience, but it’s not one I would want to repeat.

Pomegranate ginger was described as “bright pomegranate reduction, ginger, coconut oil, and dark chocolate.” It was topped with a bit of candied ginger.

I loved the intensely bright and tart initial flavor of this truffle. It reminded me of fresh, tangy red fruits, like cranberry or pomegranate juice.

That juiciness persisted throughout the ganache’s melt instead of immediately dissipating. It finally disappeared near the end, letting the chocolate come through.

I didn’t get any ginger flavors here except for when I ate the topper, but I loved the pomegranate side. An OMG.

Finally, the maple was “maple syrup, sweet butter, and a blend of dark and milk chocolates. Covered with milk chocolate, sprinkled with smoked sea salt.”

This ganache was thinner than the rest with a smooth, cool melt that was pleasant on the tongue. There were light maple undertones to its sweetness.

My favorite part of this truffle was that added sea salt. It added a light, smokiness to the semisweet ganache and made for a great chocolate and salt finish.

The salty sweet balance was just perfect in this truffle, so perfect that I managed to forget to photograph the cross-section while I ate them. Another OMG.

French Broad Chocolates is doing some great work. I’d buy them again if I could get them fresh, and if I ever make it to Asheville, I will be sure to visit their shop in person.

As for A Southern Season, I’ve learned my lesson and will stick to their chocolate bars rather than shopping at their truffle bar. Because who knows how long those truffles have been sitting their, losing their flavors?

Category: chocolate, O, OMG, review | No Comments »

Artisanal Candies in Brooklyn

April 24th, 2012 by Rosa

New York Mag has a long write-up about the artisanal food movement in Brooklyn. They’ve got a hilarious description of the Mast Brothers:

“But if the Masts are Luddite chocolate-makers, they’re also figures in a very contemporary caricature. More than anyone else in the New Brooklyn artisan movement, they exemplify to an almost implausible degree the daguerreotype stereotype of the bristly hipster, in newsboy cap and tweed britches, pedaling his penny-farthing to a north Brooklyn industrial space to make handcrafted nano-batch sweetmeats. If you’ve ever wondered what a Christopher Guest documentary about Brooklyn artisans might look like, Google ‘Mast Brothers YouTube.’ “

There’s also a hipster-filled slideshow, and Liddabit Sweets, which is on my to-visit list, also gets a mention.

Category: news | No Comments »

French Broad Chocolate Redux – Part 1

April 23rd, 2012 by Rosa

After my last two part review of French Broad Chocolates (part 1 and part 2) that I had purchased at A Southern Season, Logan from French Broad left a nice comment addressing some of my criticisms.

He agreed with my assessment that there were some freshness issues because I’d purchased them through a reseller and offered to send me a fresh batch of free samples. I’ll review three today and three on Wednesday.

First up, a redo on the vanilla bourbon that I’d already tried. I enjoyed it enough the first time, but it was even better fresh.

It started off sweetly, then took on an increasingly intense level of bourbon booziness. Again, it was all the flavor of bourbon without any of the alcohol’s burn, but it was so much more deliciously intense when the truffle was fresh.

The little pecan topper added a nice, fresh crunch, but the boozy ganache was the star here. It gets upgraded to an OM.

Vanilla bourbon caramel was a caramel version of the above, described as “organic vanilla bean and Knob Creek bourbon in a liquid caramel.” It was a pretty molded dark chocolate pinwheel filled with a smooth, liquid caramel.

That caramel melted in my mouth. It started with a light, fruity sweetness before yielding any boozy notes.

The presence of the bourbon came through, but it wasn’t as strong as that of the vanilla bourbon truffle, and I really loved the buttery scorch to the end of the caramel melt.

The dark chocolate shell finished it all off with a nice degree of cocoa depth. An OMG.

And last for today, their salted honey caramel, described as “local wildflower honey, organic cream and butter, and grey salt. Dipped in dark chocolate.”

There was a hefty dose of fine grained salt. In addition to the slash the cut across the diagonal, lots of salt was stuck to the bottom as well. On sight I worried that it was too much, but on taste, the salt balance was spot on.

The caramel was chewy with a bearably small amount of stickiness. It was sweet with the golden tones of honey – smooth and light rather than the burnt depth that I’m used to in salted caramels – and well highlighted by the added salt.

The honey flavor really came through in the finish, more floral than sugar’s comparatively bland sweetness. Finally, the dark chocolate shell added a nice cocoa flavor.

I like my caramels just shy of burnt, but this lighter version was quite enjoyable as well. An OM.

Stay tuned for Wednesday when I cover the canela picante, pomegranate ginger, and maple.

Category: caramel, chocolate, OM, OMG, review | No Comments »

Guest Post: Nestle Kit Kat Chunky Caramel Duo

April 20th, 2012 by Neil

Globe-trotting Neil (it’s so unfair how easy it is to travel between European countries!) has another across the pond review for you. ~Rosa

As promised, I have some posts up my sleeve. While waiting for dinner to cook tonight, I thought I’d simultaneously have a snack and feel productive by writing this. I pulled out a Nestle Kit Kat I picked up on a recent trip to London: Kit Kat Chunky Caramel Duo.

The package promised “Crisp wafer pieces with a caramel creamy topping (20%), covered in milk chocolate (60%).” Well, that’s sort of what I got.

The milk chocolate looked fairly standard - a bit beat up from my travel, for sure. The bars themselves are fairly thick. The two side by side are about the width of my wrist, which, let’s be honest, is not that impressive.

Eating it was sadly also not that impressive. The caramel just didn’t come through at ALL. It’s like the “creamy topping” had at some point just dried up to match the consistency of the wafer. No caramel flavor or contrasting texture.

Though it’s been in my cupboard since January, the label says it’s good through July, so it shouldn’t have gone stale in that time. I’m inclined to think it just wasn’t that caramelly to start with.

I set aside the second chunk for another time. It will probably be after dinner, sure, but I don’t see myself tracking this down in future travel. An O for the Duo.

Category: caramel, chocolate, European, guest post, Nestle, O, review | 2 Comments »

Sour Patch Kids Video Game

April 19th, 2012 by Rosa

Remember the Sour Patch Kids Rap from Method Man? It’s reappearing in a new video game starring the Sour Patch Kids (via AdFreak).

Yes, that’s right. A whole video game built around Sour Patch Kids. It looks about as weird as it sounds.

Category: news | No Comments »

Dubble Bubble Gumballs

April 18th, 2012 by Rosa

When the folks at Gumball.com asked me to review some free gumballs and a gumball machine, I thought, “Why not?”

I can’t remember the last time I actually had a gumball, but I do remember wishing my parents would buy me one when I was a kid. For the record, my tiger parents never did…

My bag of Dubble Bubble gumballs had “10 Assorted Fruit Flavors”: peach, orange, apple, cherry, grape, berry, strawberry shortcake, strawberry, watermelon, and banana.

All of the gumballs were attractively colorful, shiny, and imprinted with the Dubble Bubble logo. They had a colored sugar shell and a white gum layer around a hollow center. All took on a firm, stiff chew within a dozen or so chomps.

Peach was orange with red splotches. It tasted like sugar. Orange was just orange. There was maybe a whiff of orange citrus to the start? And then it just tasted like sugar.

Apple was a bright lime green, the color of a granny smith apple. It had the edge of a granny smith apple’s sourness for a fleeting second, then tasted like sugar.

Cherry was red on the package, but its shell was practically black in reality. A bit of dark red was visible when it was bitten into. It tasted a little like a cherry popsicle at the very beginning, and then tasted like sugar.

Are we starting to see a theme here? Grape was a blueish purple and started off tasting like a grape popsicle for a half second.

Berry (white with colored speckles), strawberry shortcake (light pink with dark pink speckles), and strawberry (neon pink) just tasted like sugar.

Watermelon was a darker grassy green and had the most actually distinguishable flavor. It tasted of floral candy watermelon Jolly Rancher for almost three seconds! And then it tasted like sugar.

And finally, banana, which was yellow, carried just a whiff of banana essence. And then tasted like sugar.

Clearly I am no longer the target audience for gumballs. They all pretty much just tasted – you guessed it – like sugar, which is mostly what they are.

They get a from my now grown-up palate. They’re a harmless 25 cent treat for your kid, but if you’re old enough to read this, you’re probably too old to like these chewy sugar bombs.

As for the gumball machine, it’s kind of cool! I’m trying to think about how I can use it in a science experiment, as I’m currently studying self-control in kiddos.

Category: --, gum, review | 2 Comments »

Mike and Ike Breakup

April 17th, 2012 by Rosa

Via my friend Neil, the NY Times reports on an new marketing campaign from Mike and Ike (I’ve reviewed their Lemonade Blends before). The duo is splitting up!

Celebrities are weighing in:

Category: news | No Comments »