Archive for October, 2012

Guest Post: Meiji Fruit Gummies Part I

October 17th, 2012 by CamNMere

I’m currently at the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans, so I’m turning things over to some globe-trotting friends this week. Cameron and Meredith are former roommates of mine (we did lots of chocolate truffle tastings together), and they’re writing about some treats they bought on a recent trip through Japan. ~Rosa

For our second and third post (to run on Friday), we have a selection of fruit gummies from Meiji! Rosa’s reviewed a red grape variety of these before, which as we discovered is actually a slightly different product from what we’ve got here.

As you can see, there are two package sizes: Both contain ~50g of candy, but the larger packages (labelled as 2700mg – this number appears to refer to the amount of collagen in the candy) are fairly traditional fruit gummies while the smaller green package (1200mg collagen) is the dome-shaped, gooey-center gummy that matches what you’ve seen before.

We picked these up in the Ameyoko shopping area, along with about 80% of the candy we brought back. Ameyoko is a several-block area nestled along the rail line to Ueno Station in Tokyo. The area was famous for its candy shops a long time ago, although it’s probably more famous as the site of a major black market in the postwar era.

Nowadays it’s mostly a mishmash of all sorts of stores, with lots of clothing and fashion accessories. But there are still several candy vendors, and the grocery store we went to is almost hilariously candy-centric – something like 75% of the floor area is aisle after aisle of candy, both local stuff and the major national brands like Meiji.

On to the taste. Meredith and I had substantially divergent opinions on some of these, so I’ve listed our notes separately. She’s obviously the more experienced gummy consumer!

Without further ado:

Red Grape!

Cameron: These are pretty basic mass-produced gummies: chew is firm, not at all sticky, with a robust and not overly sweet grape flavor. I kind of think red grape is the easiest gummy to get right, since it has a strong, fairly standard flavor that you can get from basically any manufacturer. O

Meredith: I disagree! In my gummy experience there are two general categories of grape candy: the basic mass-produced type that Cam describes, which has the generic grapeish flavor of Dimetapp and the sugar content of grape soda, but basically nothing else to recommend it; and a second type that does some degree of justice to the complex seedy flavor of real grapes (the gold standard here in my comparatively limited experience being grape Hi-Chew, which I love).

I’d put these gummies more in the second category: They have an aroma and flavor that is seedy and a little wine-y, and a chewiness that is pretty gummy-typical but nonetheless satisfying. OM. I probably would have eaten the whole package if Cam didn’t have me on a tight candy-sampling schedule.

Lemon!

Cameron: Much less generic flavor. There is a lime on the packaging in the background as well, I think these might actually be a citrus blend rather than pure lemon. A bit softer than the other flavors, and a bit stickier.

They have a slightly chemical hint to them unfortunately, but overall they taste very much like the “dry” lemon flavor that is super popular in Japanese beverages right now (which is a bit tarter and much less sweet than American lemon flavored beverages). OM

Meredith: I thought these totally smelled like CC Lemon (side note: Japan spoiled me forever in terms of deliciously tart citrus soda) but tasted a bit over-sweet and medicinal, like pinesol or a bottom-shelf whiskey sour. I’d still give it an O for soda nostalgia, though!

Mango!

Cameron: These actually taste more like apples to me than mango. You don’t really get mango out of them until the aftertaste. After closer inspection, could that be an apple on the package, behind the mango? I think so.

Mango is such a hard flavor to capture in candy, and these certainly don’t excel at it. Like the rest though, they’re certainly not bad candy… just, uninspired. O

Meredith: While I agree that these gummies don’t really taste like mango, I didn’t get apple either.  If I didn’t know they were supposed to be mango, I’d call them magnolia gums.  They’re really floral and perfumey, which was unexpected but pretty tasty in their own right. O

We’ve got a couple more gummies to cover – that post will run on Friday.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), guest post, gummi/gummy, Meiji, O, OM, review | 2 Comments »

Maybe someday I’ll win a Nobel…

October 16th, 2012 by Rosa

My friend Steve alerted me to a news story that’s been making the rounds: a nation’s chocolate consumption correlates with Nobel laureates per capita. Switzerland came out on top in chocolate consumption and second in Nobel laureates.

As Steve noted, logic clearly states that I am overdue for a Nobel.

In related news, Slate has a nice explanation of why the Swiss eat so much chocolate in the first place.

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Guest Post: Japanese Tiramisu Chocolates

October 15th, 2012 by CamNMere

I’m currently at the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans, so I’m turning things over to some globe-trotting friends this week. Cameron and Meredith are former roommates of mine (we did lots of chocolate truffle tastings together), and they’re writing about some treats they bought on a recent trip through Japan. ~Rosa

Hello folks! It’s a pleasure to be here.

I recently schlepped a 40-something pound duffel bag of candy and snacks back from Japan, at the instigation of my travel companion and co-taster Meredith. Customs gave me some pretty weird looks! We’ll be picking a few of the gems from the pile to share with you over the next couple of posts.

Today’s selection is Tiramisu Chocolate and Maccha Tiramisu Chocolate. The packaging lacks an English translation of the brand name, and searching by radical helpfully provides “former time pioneer”. If anyone knows the answer, I’m all ears!

The gold symbol on the right proclaims that they were a 2011 selection by Monde Selection; I’m unaware of how reputable that organization is.

On to the candy! Tiramisu Chocolate’s up first.

Cameron’s Notes:
It smells like cocoa, dark and powdery, but it doesn’t come through in the flavor – the cocoa layer on the outside is very thin. The almond in the middle is quite nice – the crunch is right on. I’d guess they probably dry-roasted the nut from the flavor and crunchiness.

The middle tiramisu layer dominates the flavor and lingers nicely, but it is not as almondy as I would hope and is instead very buttery. I’d prefer this treat to be a hair sweeter and have stronger nut flavor, but overall it’s pretty tasty. An OM – I’d eat these happily, but there are a lot of things I would buy instead if I saw them on the shelf.

Meredith’s Notes:
I am a huge sucker for any sort of coated almond confection, so I had high expectations for the tiramisu almonds, and they mostly delivered. I thought the middle “custard” layer might be yogurty based on its appearance, but it had the more neutral flavor and slippery mouthfeel of a vanilla buttercream, providing a satisfying contrast with the almond crunch.

Based on its name, I also expected some sort of coffee flavor to come through at some point, but I guess that referred more to the layered construction than the flavor, which was 99% butter-almond, 1% cocoa, 0% coffee. Though not complex or wildly innovative, these almonds are a solid contribution to the coated nut domain. OM.

On to the Maccha flavor!

Cameron’s Notes:
The maccha is undetectable to my nose. Notably softer than the cocoa flavor, to its detriment I feel – doesn’t nail the crunch nearly as well. The maccha powder is quite bitter – comparable to a dark chocolate, but lacking the complexity to back it up. It eventually ends up at the same butter flavor as before.

There’s a nice moment where the two flavors balance, but it’s fleeting, caught between the overly aggressive initial maccha flavor and the rather bland butter aftertaste. I like maccha in other contexts, but these are clearly inferior to the cocoa flavor.

Meredith’s Notes:
As an even bigger sucker for matcha-flavored anything, I found the matcha tiramisu nuts disappointingly weird. The unsweetened matcha powder coating the nuts completely dominated the experience and left an astringent, musty aftertaste in my mouth and nose.

I bravely sucked all the bitter powder off a second nut so that I could evaluate the inner regions of the confection without the confounding surface mustiness. Indeed, the matcha flavor was much more balanced and subtle in the buttercream layer. This would have been a much better treat if the matcha-infused buttery layer had been rolled in cocoa instead of matcha. A from me too.

Category: --, Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), guest post, nuts, OM, review | 4 Comments »

Dark Chocolate Chipotle Almonds from Sugarfina

October 12th, 2012 by Rosa

These Dark Chocolate Chipotle Almonds were another free sample from Sugarfina. They came in a little plastic 2×2 inch box, which I believe is their petite size. It held ~20 almonds.

They were much larger than most dark chocolate-covered almonds that I’ve seen, I think because the almonds were first given a chipotle-flavored candy shell before their shiny outer layer of panned chocolate.

That candy shell gave these almonds a great sweet crunch with a lightly spiced smoky chipotle flavor that brought just the right amount of firey heat to the finish.

The almond centers were crunchy as well. Their roasted nuttiness paired well with the chipotle and the chocolate.

Finally, the outer dark chocolate layer was lightly fruity and sweet. It provided a nice undertone to the spicy nuttiness, making this a well-balanced treat all around.

These almonds were like nothing I’d ever had before, and I found them to be an enjoyable treat. I’d love to buy these as a pick-me-up snack, though their $5/~20 price tag on Sugarfina (that’s 25 cents a nut!) puts them into the special-splurge section of my grad student budget. An OM.

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM | Comments Off

Bacon Praline Recipe

October 11th, 2012 by Rosa

You ready to get your drool on? Check out this recipe from Serious Eats for Bacon Praline. That’s candied bacon plus caramel. Drooling yet?

Really, though, you could just stop at the candied bacon part. I make candied turkey bacon – I like it better because it’s meatier – and add a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Down that stuff like candy!

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Mint Chip Malted Milk Balls from Sugarfina

October 10th, 2012 by Rosa

These Mint Chip Malted Milk Balls came from my free sample of Sugarfina‘s Malt Shoppe tasting flight. The flight’s “menu” described these as “refreshing malt balls… coated in dark chocolate, then rolled in mint cookie crumbles.”

The Mint Chip balls were quite visually appealing, a sea-foamy green flecked with dark cookie bits. Mine were certainly fresh, as their malted centers gave a great solid crunch when bitten into.

That malted center had strong, toasty malt flavors. I love real malt, and these malt balls really delivered.

The outer mint layer was creamy with light peppermint flavors, while a thin chocolate layer could be found between the mint and the malt. The flavor balance was great, with the toasty malt center playing counter to the pepperminty coating.

The whole thing tasted like an awesome mint chocolate chip malted milkshake. I loved them. An OMG.

 

Category: chocolate, mint, news, OMG | 1 Comment »

DIY Molded Chocolates

October 9th, 2012 by Rosa

In case you’ve ever wanted to make your own molded chocolates, Rise and Shine (via Lifehacker) shows how you can make your own molds out of brown sugar.

Looks fun! If I ever try it, I will probably start with something less phallic…

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Hammond’s Caramels – Vanilla and Chocolate

October 8th, 2012 by Rosa

These Hammond’s Caramels were free samples that arrived in the same box as the Piggy Backs that I previously reviewed. They came in vanilla and chocolate, and both 1.5-inch squares were wrapped in waxed paper for an old-fashioned look.

Vanilla had a soft and super super sticky chew, like an extra sticky Starburst. The wax paper that it came wrapped in was the only thing that it didn’t stick to.

It had a lightly perfumed floral sweetness that was round and mellow, similar to that of powdered sugar. I was a little disappointed – I like my caramels dark and scorchy and complex, while here it was mild and simply sweet.

Chocolate’s chew was a stiffer than that of the vanilla, but it was similarly sticky and softened as I chewed it. Its flavor reminded me of a super intense, less artificially sweet Tootsie Roll.

The chocolate caramel’s cocoa flavor had surprising depth. Imagine a mug of hot cocoa distilled into a chewy caramel – it had the same light fruity undertone that Swiss Miss does.

I liked the deep cocoa flavor of the chocolate caramel, but I felt that both the chocolate and the vanilla lacked the burnt sugar complexity that I look for in caramels. These guys played it too safe, so they get Os.

 

Category: caramel, chocolate, Hammond's Candies, O, review | Comments Off

Sugarfina Cocktail Hour – Part II Gummies

October 5th, 2012 by Rosa

On Wednesday, I covered the cordials from my free sample of online candy boutique Sugarfina‘s Cocktail Hour Tasting Bar. Today, I’ll go through the gummis in that assortment.

The gummi half of this assortment included Hard Cider Pints, Belgian Ale Pints, Champagne Bubbles, and Champagne Bears.

The Hard Cider Pints were yellow bottle-shaped gummies coated in a mild sour sugar that also carried a tinge of effervescence. The chew was super firm and not at all sproingy, and the flavor was that of a mild apple juice.

I didn’t get any booze notes, though I suppose the slight pseudo-fizz from the sour sugar was meant to simulate the carbonation in hard cider.

The Belgian Ale Pints were on the opposite end of the gummi texture spectrum – they were super soft and sproingy. The scent was strong and incredibly beery. It was pretty cool to get that bitter, wheaty scent from a gummi!

The gummi tasted sweeter than I expected. It had a sweet and fruity berry flavor with a light beery aftertaste that was probably due to the strong scent.

Though it definitely smelled like beer, the flavor wasn’t very beery to me, but I still enjoyed it. In fact, I’d probably drink more beer if it tasted like this gummi.

Champagne Bubbles were white gumdrop-shaped gummis covered in little white nonpareils. The nonpareils provided a crunchy shell, while the center gumdrop had a soft and instant give when bitten into, with no bounciness.

I enjoyed the bright sweetness of these bubbles. They were just shy of being tart and tasted like ripe green grapes, sort of like de-alcoholified champagne, I guess.

Finally, the Champagne Bears were pink and gold gummi bears that were soft and sproingy with intense flavors. The pink bears tasted like a mix of strawberry and peach, while the gold ones were brightly sweet and fruity.

I didn’t get any alcoholic champagne flavors from the Champagne Bears. To me, they’re more like Bellini Bears. With their pleasantly sweet and strong flavors, they were still quite enjoyable.

The gummis in this assortment were tasty, and though none of them carried the flavor of actual alcohol, they were a good approximation of the booze they represented. The Belgian Ale Pints were unusual enough to warrant an OM. The rest get Os.

Category: gummi/gummy, O, OM, review, sour | Comments Off

Horseless Headsman Needs a Snickers

October 4th, 2012 by Rosa

Via AdFreak, a new Halloween-themed Snickers commercial gets a little spooky and a lot silly.

I have to admit, I found it stupid hilarious. Giant head, tiny hands! Ooooo!

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