Archive for May, 2013

Madécasse Chocolate – Pink Pepper & Citrus

May 15th, 2013 by Rosa

Madécasse Chocolate is a new company to me. They’re “bean-to-bar in Madagascar” and, though they’re not Fair Trade certified (probably due to the expense), they claim that their business practices generate 4 times the impact of fair trade cocoa.

Pink Pepper & Citrus was 63% cocoa, pink pepper, & combava fruit. Combava fruit sounds super exotic, but I think it’s just another name for Kaffir Lime (still exotic, but slightly more familiar sounding).

The bar was prettily molded to highlight that it was made in Madagascar. It broke easily along its scores, but its texture was soft, with a matte mouthfeel.

This bar was astoundingly complex. I didn’t have to close my eyes or try too hard to really focus on the flavors; they came out swinging.

It started off with a deep earthiness, then yielded to a bright, citrusy fruitiness with an undertone of pepper’s just-shy-of-acrid essence (but not its heat). All this for only 2/4 dots of intensity on Madécasse Chocolate’s scale?

I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate in my day, and it’s rare to find bars that pack so much flavor complexity and just so much flavor, period. A ZOMG!

Stay tuned til Friday, when I cover Madécasse Chcoolate’s “Best in Show” winning Sea Sat & Nibs bar!

Category: chocolate, fair trade, review, ZOMG! | 1 Comment »

Mast Brothers Chocolate in Hipster Land

May 14th, 2013 by Rosa

The NY Times recently ran what I thought was an unnecessarily snarky but pretty funny takedown of Williamsburg’s hipster culture. At one point, he visits the hipster chocolate haven that is the Mast Brother’s Chocolate showroom:

“Great food wants a great dessert, so I hied myself to the showroom of Mast Brothers Chocolate, a lodestar of the artisanal foods movement. This company makes it a point to wind-sail its cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic to Brooklyn, then to hand-sort these beans, then to let its chocolate ‘rest’ 30 days before sale. Only Leona Helmsley’s dogs have ever been so cosseted.

“The store smells like heaven; I would happily die there. For $10 you can buy a burlap sack used to haul the beans in, perhaps for use as a satchel. I told a freckled young employee in a peasant blouse: ‘I bet those sacks are very popular with single men. If all your stuff smelled like chocolate? Bingo.’ The girl nodded and enthused: ‘I got one for my birthday. Most of the people who work here have them.’ “

Category: news | Comments Off

Bissinger’s Gummy Pandas – Lemon Ginger Yuzu

May 13th, 2013 by Rosa

After I reviewed Bissinger‘s grapefruit gummy pandas, I thought I’d never buy another bag because they were just too expensive ($4.99 for a 4 oz bag). But this bag of Lemon Ginger Yuzu gummy pandas just sounded too tasty to pass up, so I splurged again.

The lemon ginger yuzu pandas had a soft yet sproingy chew that was incredibly pleasant to chomp on. Just enough bounce to keep things interesting, but soft enough to be easy on the jaw.

The pandas smelled strongly of ginger with a lemony citrus undertone, and the flavor profile matched the scent. They started off sweet and gingery, then mellowed into a sweet lemon drop flavor with just a smidge of lemon zestiness.

The ginger flavor was strong and genuine, yet immensely palate pleasing. They captured all the wonderful essence of ginger flavor without its stinging bite, which was perfect for me.

These were unlike anything other gummi that I’ve bought (I know Haribo makes a lemon ginger gummi, but I’ve yet to see it in the wild), which is a shame because they were addictively delicious. For now, totally worth the premium and my new favorite gummi. ZOMG!

Category: gummi/gummy, organic, review, ZOMG! | Comments Off

Indi Chocolate

May 10th, 2013 by Rosa

When I was in Seattle for a conference a few weeks ago, I managed to slip away to Pike Place market one day for an extended lunch break. On my way out, I found this little hidden, family-owned chocolate shop called Indi Chocolate.

Indi Chocolate does bean to bar, but they also do bean to beauty product. I only review things that I can eat, so I picked up a couple of their prettily molded plain dark chocolate bars.

The ingredients couldn’t be simpler: Cocoa Beans, Cocoa Butter, Sugar. The chocolate snapped, but softly. It had no grit, but neither was it perfectly smooth – instead, it felt luxuriously velvety on my tongue.

The chocolate’s flavor was spectacular: lightly sweet with fruity berry notes and enough of an earthy, bittersweet undertone to keep things interesting. The finish was slightly astringent, but not overpoweringly so.

Indi Chocolate turned out to be a high quality treat with enough flavor complexity to keep me breaking off additional nibbles. An OMG.

Category: chocolate, OMG, review | 1 Comment »

Serious Eats on Askinosie Chocolates

May 9th, 2013 by Rosa

I recently reviewed and loved Askinosie’s single-origin dark chocolates. Serious Eats just reviewed one of their flavored bars, which makes me want to go out and buy their entire line.

Category: news | Comments Off

Guest post: Ritter Sport à la Crema Catalana

May 8th, 2013 by Neil

Here’s another guest post from ex-pat friend Neil! ~Rosa

Late on a Friday night at a German supermarket, I discovered a new Ritter Sport flavor I hadn’t even seen advertised yet: the Ritter Sport à la Crema Catalana.

I spied something like a crème brûlée on the package and my heart skipped a beat. I bought two, knowing I’d devour the first and have to review it properly later.

It is the standard Ritter Sport size and shape. The bar breaks pretty much as expected between the squares.

What an intense flavor experience this is! This is one of the sweetest candies I’ve had. The chocolate tastes almost like an afterthought to the bold filling.

While both are creamy and blend together, the filling at first has a little more heft to it. The sweetness is almost too much to handle, and you can taste the intensity of the filling’s contribution to this if you even just briefly hold a square in your mouth before chewing it.

This filling flavor was not what I expected, not a standard crème brûlée. It’s almost more like the filling of a Cadbury Creme Egg, though certainly more refined.

It turns out that a crema catalana is a different dish than the usual “cb”, as I call it, so the discrepancy between my expectation and experience makes more sense.

I recommend Ritter Sport fans seek this out for its novelty value and any super-sweet-tooth types as well. I wanted to love love love it, but the nearly overwhelming flavors drop it back a bit, so this is an OM for me.

Category: chocolate, European, guest post, OM, Ritter Sport | 1 Comment »

Serious Eats covers Chicago caramels

May 7th, 2013 by Rosa

Serious Eats recently ran a delectable slide show about caramels in Chicago. I’ll have to find time to hunt some of those down while I’m in town for Sweets and Snacks.

Photo above is Le Caramel’s caramel cream.

Category: news | Comments Off

Guest post: Hema Caramel & Biscuit Candybar Mini

May 6th, 2013 by Neil

Here’s another guest post from ex-pat friend Neil! ~Rosa

A staple of Dutch towns is the HEMA department store. I dither on its American equivalent. K-Mart? Target? Everything there is their own brand, from clothing to sausage to the carpet cleaner.

Often, when you ask a Dutch person “Where would I buy a…”, the answer is “HEMA”. I discovered recently that they have candies I’m curious about. To that end, I bought a huge bag of mini caramel & biscuit bars.

Each bar is about 3 inches long. The form is your basic, chocolate-covered candy bar. It turns out it is tough to cleanly eat these.

[Note from Rosa: Do these individually wrapped chocolate bars remind anyone else of wrapped tampons?]

The chocolate flakes fall, the biscuit crumbs drop, and the caramel threads stretch. This mess is the least of the bar’s issues.

The chocolate taste simultaneously involves acidity and salt. The caramel falls flat, flavorwise. And the biscuit is there for just texture, it seems.

My officemate may have put it best when saying that this is trying to be a Twix, and failing miserably. They’ve become an office snack for when I’m desperate for sugar but not discriminating on any other level. These rate a .

Category: --, caramel, chocolate, cookie, European, guest post, review | 2 Comments »

See’s Assorted Chocolates Week 2 – Day 3

May 3rd, 2013 by Rosa

Back in 2009, I devoted a whole week to See’s Chocolates as I reviewed an assorted box that they sent me. This week will be another week of See’s Chocolates reviews, only this time, I’ll be reviewing a box that I bought and picked out myself in Seattle.

On Monday, I covered four of their truffles. Wednesday, I reviewed four Dark Chocolate without Nuts pieces. Today, I’ll wrap up the week with reviews of two Dark Chocolate with Nuts and two Milk Chocolate without Nuts pieces.

Dark Cocoanut (sic) was “buttercream with angel flake coconut”. I’ve reviewed the milk version of this before, but the fresh version of the cocoanut was world’s better. It also turns out that my coconut tastes have changed over the years!

The fresh Cocoanut blew my mind, as its coconut center was so fresh that it was shiny and moist. It tasted strongly nutty with great fresh coconut flavors.

The chewy shreds squeaked between my teeth and left behind a sweet finish that was tempered by the dark chocolate shell. An OMG.

Marzipan was dark chocolate around “honey almond paste”, and it was another truffle that I’d previously reviewed. This, too, was greatly elevated while fresh, as the flavors were far stronger and more delicious.

My fresh Marzipan had a softly grainy center with just enough moisture to hold it together. It had lovely floral overtones of almond and a nutty finish that lingered after the treat was gone. An OM.

Milk Butterchew was the milk chocolate version of the Dark Butterchew from Wednesday. The caramel was buttery sweet and chewy, and here it was paired with a sweet milk chocolate with a great caramel finish.

I preferred the Dark to the Milk Butterchew, as I felt the dark chocolate better balanced the sweetness of the caramel, but I still wouldn’t turn down a Milk Butterchew. OM.

Finally, the Butterscotch Square was “firm brown sugar buttercream”, which I’d also reviewed before. In my maximally fresh version, the ganache was soft and slightly moist with a pleasant graininess.

I took a bite to take photos, let it sit for a day or two, and when I came back, it had dried and stiffened. It tasted of honey sweet brown sugar, which was complimented by the dusky cocoa finish of the milk chocolate coating.

It was so sweet that I couldn’t eat more than a bite at a time, but I enjoyed all of those measured bites. An OM.

I was pretty happy with all of my See’s selections. At $17.50/lb, See’s is pretty hard to beat in bang for your buck. Highly recommended all around!

Category: caramel, chocolate, coconut, OM, OMG, review, See's | Comments Off

Sweets and Snacks 2013

May 2nd, 2013 by Rosa

Emma talked me into taking on Sweets and Snacks again this year. We’re Chicago bound in a few weeks!

If you don’t know, Sweets and Snacks is the big annual candy (and now salty snacks) convention. Last year, I took away about 20 lbs of free samples. Candy companies are very generous with their freebies, so there’s no need to pull a Homer Simpson:

Here’s this year’s exhibitor list. Let me know if y’all have any requests!

Category: news | 2 Comments »