Archive for July, 2012

Nestle Crunch Girl Scouts – Caramel & Coconut

July 18th, 2012 by Rosa

Monday I reviewed two of the three limited edition Nestle Crunch Girl Scout cookie inspired candy bars that I found at my local Dollar store. Today, I’m covering the third, Caramel & Coconut, inspired by Samoas/Caramel deLites.

This was described as “cookie wafers, coconut caramel creme and chewy caramel, topped with toasted coconut.” Like the other two bars, this one was made with palm oil instead of cocoa butter, so no actual chocolate.

For some reason, the mockolate coating here held up much better instead of melting all over the place. Perhaps because it was lacking the other two’s airy crispies, this also got an additional adornment of caramel colored stripes on top.

The wafer layers were quite crisp and tasted of toasty cookie and sweetened coconut flakes. They were topped with a noticeable layer of squishy and sweet caramel with bits of coconut in it that squeaked between my teeth.

I thought this bar did a great job of capturing the flavor of Samoas in chocolate bar form – sweet, amber caramel and light chocolate flavor plus coconut nuttiness. It was a little overly sweet for my taste, but I feel the same about Samoas. I think the mockolate is less of an issue here since its problem texture and flavor gets lost when mixed with the caramel.

These are the only one of the three bars I’d want to eat again, but it skews a little too sweet and artificial to gain a boost in rating. Another O.


Category: caramel, coconut, cookie, limited edition, mockolate, Nestle, O, review | Comments Off on Nestle Crunch Girl Scouts – Caramel & Coconut

Taro Desserts – Yay or Nay?

July 17th, 2012 by Rosa

Serious Eat’s Robyn Lee had been tweeting teasers about a taro ice cream post. And it’s here! Apparently, she loves it.

I have had worse luck with taro flavored sweets and am not particularly convinced that I’d like it in ice cream form. I think I’ll stick with taking my taro savory (suddenly have cravings for dim sum…).

Readers, have you had taro desserts or candies before? What do you think?

Category: news | 3 Comments »

Nestle Crunch Girl Scouts flavors – Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Creme

July 16th, 2012 by Rosa

Nestle Crunch’s Girl Scout inspired candy bars made quite the splash when they were teased. I finally managed to find them at my local Dollar General store (where very few things still cost a dollar, by the way).

The new bars came in Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Creme (based on Tagalongs or Peanut Butter Patties, depending on which bakery makes your cookies), and Caramel & Coconut (Samoas or Caramel deLites). I’ll cover the first two today and save the last for Wednesday.

Thin Mints was described as “dark chocolate cookie wafers and mint chocolate creme, topped with airy crispies.” Those wafers were crisp and airy with a thin cocoa flavor. The rice crisps that topped it added a nice crunch as well.

The mockolate coating that draped the bar was thin and melty, thanks to the palm oil in the ingredients, yet it somehow felt pasty in my mouth. The mint creme added a creamy and light minty finish that was more mild than I remember real Thin Mints being.

Peanut Butter Creme was “cookie wafers and peanut butter creme, topped with airy crispies.” Its wafer cookies were thicker than those of the Thin Mint version, so they brought a more sizeable crunch.

The peanut butter creme was salty and nutty and tasted just like peanut butter straight out of the jar (not that I’d ever do that…). While the nutty flavor was great, it dominated any chocolate-esque flavors that the melting and peeling off mockolate coating carried.

While these were a fun take on nostalgia tinged cookies, I don’t think either of them were worth a repeat buy. If Nestle had chosen to use higher quality ingredients – namely, real chocolate – maybe we could’ve had a limited edition that would actually be missed. An O for both.

Cybele managed to find these much earlier than I did, and Serious Eats wrote about them as well, if you want other opinions.

Category: cookie, limited edition, mint, mockolate, Nestle, O, peanut butter, review | 2 Comments »

Hammond’s PB&J Sandwich

July 13th, 2012 by Rosa

Hammond’s PB&J Sandwich bar was creating quite a stir at Sweet and Snacks. It won the most innovative new product award in the chocolate category, where they were up against some Hershey’s products and some Wild Ophelia (from Vosges) bars.

The bar was segmented into 10 H-embossed rectangles with a solid break between each piece. The milk chocolate shell had a thick and creamy melt with a strong sweetness and a slight tinge of sourness to the finish.

Inside the chocolate was the money-maker: dual layers of peanut butter and jelly! The peanut butter was an extremely thick paste. It had a mild nuttiness and a pleasant duskiness to it.

The jelly was a red gel-like goop with a bit of ooze. It was sweet with a mild red fruitiness to the finish.

Alas, I think the chocolate was too overpowering here and masked much of the peanut butter and jelly flavor. I would’ve especially like more oomph to the jelly. I always use jam or preserves rather than jelly when making real PB&Js, as jelly isn’t fruity enough for me, and I have the same complaint about the jelly in this bar.

Still, lots of points for creativity and visually pleasing execution. An O.

Category: chocolate, Hammond's Candies, nuts, O, review | Comments Off on Hammond’s PB&J Sandwich

Bent Objects Marshmallow

July 12th, 2012 by Rosa

If you’ve never heard of Terry Border, you can thank me later for introducing him to you. He’s a modern day Alexander Calder, combining talented wire art with everyday objects and a sly creative wit.

He created the below “Martyr-mallow” scene that I just had to share, especially in light of yesterday’s post!

Category: news | Comments Off on Bent Objects Marshmallow

Russell Stover S’More(s)

July 11th, 2012 by Rosa

This Russell Stover S’More was yet another free sample snagged at Sweets and Snacks (get used to that opening line, folks. I got enough candy stashed from the Expo to wait out the zombie apocalypse).

S’mores was a weirdly big thing at the Expo. This was the only fully assembled s’more that I saw, but there were s’more flavored goodies and quite a few companies selling s’mores kits, which were basically a pre-packaged bundle of long sticks, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate.

Part of me wanted to roll my eyes and go, “Seriously? We need someone to further process and package our processed and packaged food?” But another part of me thought, “For a real camping trip, I guess it would be better than carrying around a whole box of graham crackers and a whole bag of marshmallows.”

Aaaand end tangent; back to the candy! This thing was pretty cool: a marshmallow square covered in milk chocolate and sandwiched between two graham cracker squares. All the ingredients in real s’mores, minus the toasting.

It wasn’t the easiest thing to transport. As you can imagine, the combination of crunchy cookie and light marshmallow made for easy squashing. My crackers had picked up a few breaks by the time I got it back to Durham.

Alas, those crackers had gone stale by the time I tasted this treat, so the texture was a bit off. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t mind that too much, as the staleness was masked when it was all chomped up along with the chocolate and marshmallow.

The cracker had a decent flavor of sweet, toasty graham crackers. The flavor was a bit one-dimensional, and I found myself wishing for some highlights of honey, but it was good enough. Still, I wouldn’t recommend eating the graham cracker portion alone in its stale state.

The milk chocolate coating was thin on the marshmallow but thick in its melt with a slightly sour tinge. Classic Hershey’s-esque flavor profile there.

The marshmallow was lightly chewy and squishy and fluffy, with an oozingly long pull when I bit into it and drew it away from my mouth. It tasted entirely of sugary sweetness. Though I missed the toastiness of real s’mores’ marshmallows, I was thankful they didn’t include some sort of artificial flavoring to fake the toasties.

Though I found the marshmallow to be too sweet by itself, the graham cracker did an excellent job of toning down that sweetness, and the chocolate worked to tie everything together. I really enjoyed the mix of flavors and textures here.

I found myself on the fence on whether to give this an O or an OM. None of the ingredients on their own were particularly transcendent, but together, they worked. In the end, I think my appreciation for Russell Stover’s creativity and ingenuity wins out, so an OM.

Category: chocolate, cookie, marshmallow, OM, review, Russell Stover | Comments Off on Russell Stover S’More(s)

Science says measure out your indulgences

July 10th, 2012 by Rosa

A recent Op-Ed in the NY Times encourages people to stop overindulging. In addition to making you feel sick, overindulgence can also make you less satisfied with what you have (even when you have more). They give an example of how chocolate proves their point:

In a recent study conducted by our student Jordi Quoidbach, chocolate lovers ate a piece of this confection — and then pledged to abstain from chocolate for one week. Another group pledged to eat as much chocolate as they comfortably could and were even given a mammoth two-pound bag of chocolate to help them meet this “goal.”

If you love chocolate, you might think that the students who absconded with the chocolaty loot had it made. But they paid a price. When they returned the next week for another chocolate tasting, they enjoyed that chocolate much less than they had the week before. The only people who enjoyed the chocolate as much the second week as they had the first? Those who had given it up in between. Underindulging — temporarily giving up chocolate, even when we have the cash to buy all we want — can renew our enjoyment of the things we love.

I try to do all my candy tasting (and photographing) all at once on the weekends. I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t spread my candy eating across the week!

Category: news | 4 Comments »

Life Savers Gummies – Collisions

July 9th, 2012 by Rosa

I picked up this bag of Life Savers Gummies Collisions at the Sweets and Snacks Expo, where they’d been left out in the press room in hopes that people like me would choose to write about them. Congratulations, Wrigley. You win.

The bag I got was a big share size that was awkwardly proportioned, wider than it was tall. It was supposed to be pulled open along the long side, which again, was awkward, making it hard to open.

The gummies were called Collisions because they were two half gummies of different flavors smooshed together to make one whole gummi. They came in raspberry lemonade, cherry watermelon, and pineapple punch.

All the gummies had a softly chewy and bouncy texture that broke into bits as I chewed them up. Their surface was velvety with a lightly greasy feel that was slightly annoying but tolerable.

Raspberry lemonade was light red and yellow. Obviously, yellow was the lemonade half, which tasted of sweet and mild lemon citrus and lacked any sourness. Red had a mild red fruit flavor, a mix of cherry and light raspberry seediness.

Cherry watermelon was green and dark red. The green tasted of classic candy watermelon, all sweet and floral. The red tasted similar to the raspberry gummy but slightly sweeter and without any raspberry notes.

Finally, pineapple punch was yellow and teal. The yellow pineapple half was sweet with a hint of corey pineapple bitterness, while the teal reminded me of Hawaiian punch (or at least my memory of Hawaiian punch. It’s been years since I had it). The punch side was sweet and floral with a hint of mild tartness.

Pineapple punch was my favorite and gets an OM. The other flavors were fine but nothing too noteworthy, so the bag as a whole gets an O.

Category: gummi/gummy, Life Savers, O, review, Wrigley's | Comments Off on Life Savers Gummies – Collisions

Yan Yan Creamy Choco-Hazelnut vs Nutella & Go

July 6th, 2012 by Rosa

Nutella & Go won the Most Innovative New Product Award in the sweet snacks category at this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo. It was a plastic tub with biscuit sticks and a little dipping well of Nutella.

Sounds/looks familiar? That’s because Meiji‘s Yan Yan has been making basically the same product for at least a decade. I remember eating them while growing up.

While Meiji was handing out Yan Yan’s at the Expo, no one handed them any awards. I’d say this is an instance of Europeans taking credit (or at least acclaim) for something Asian people invented years ago.

Clearly this calls for a head-to-head comparison. While Yan Yan comes in an assortment of flavors in both dipping cream and biscuit stick, I’m using their creamy choco-hazelnut dip for maximum similarity to Nutella & Go.

Both the Yan Yan and Nutella & Go were free samples from Sweets and Snacks. The former was given to me by Meiji’s US distributor for the purposes of this head-to-head review, while the latter was freely left out for all takers by Ferrero.

Both products were quite similar in packaging design with a little well separating the dipping medium from the dipping sticks. Yan Yan came in a trapezoidal tube (the top circle was slightly bigger than the bottom; is there a fancy math term for this shape?) while Nutella & Go was in a half circle tube with a trompe l’oeil Nutella jar look.

Let’s start with the dipping sticks. The Yan Yan biscuits were longer and a lightly toasty golden brown. They tasted slightly sweet with a tinge of butteriness to the finish.

The Nutella & Go sticks, on the other hand, were shorter, with the pale, alabaster hue of Dita Von Teese‘s skin. They were airier, like a crunchy restaurant breadstick. The flavor reminded me of the wheaty blandness of a saltless saltine.

Yan Yan definitely came out ahead on the dipping stick front. Let’s move on to the dips!

Yan Yan’s “smooth creme” had the texture of whipped frosting. When I dipped and then pulled out the stick, little holes were left in the cream. The flavor was that of malty chocolate with a light tinge of nuttiness.

The Nutella portion of the Nutella & Go was, as far as I could tell, the same as standard Nutella. It was much more flowy. When I pulled the sticks out of the Nutella, it clung to the sticks with a long pull, and the Nutella left in the well settled to fill in the holes.

Though it had a viscous flow in the well and on the stick, the Nutella felt thick, sticky, and pasty in my mouth. The hazelnuttiness was much stronger here, with a great nutty intensity that matched its chocolatey-ness.

I’m going to call it a draw on the dips. Though they’re supposed to be similar, they’re actually quite different in flavor and texture. I liked the Yan Yan version for its malty notes, but I also enjoyed Nutella for the nuttiness. And because its Nutella!

In the end, Yan Yan wins out for its tasty biscuit sticks. Nutella & Go’s sticks were not very good and didn’t add anything to the product. I’d stick with just getting Nutella in a jar. An OM for the Yan Yan and an O for Nutella & Go.



Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, European, Ferrero, Meiji, nuts, O, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Snickers Sample Lady Love

July 5th, 2012 by Rosa

Via AdFreak comes this cute commercial for Snickers Peanut Butter Squared. Ah, young love…

I’m not ashamed to admit that I time my Costco visits for peak free sample hour. Last weekend, they were handing out whole babyback ribs!

Category: news | 1 Comment »