April 3rd, 2013 by Rosa
My friends Emma and Jason recently took a vacation to London and brought me back a box of After Eight Mint Chocolate Thins. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’d recall that I spent the summer of 2008 in the UK, during which I reviewed the regular After Eights.
The Mint Chocolate Thin version of the After Eights were much classier than the boxy cubes I’d had before. My 300 g box of thins had ~35 thins, each encased in their own delicate sleeves. The sleeves themselves were prettily decorated with the After Eight clock logo in gold.
The Thins were 4cm square and about 1/4 cm thick. Their bottoms were flat and lightly imprinted with “After Eight” in script, while the tops were wavy and rippled.
The thin dark chocolate shell broke easily to reveal the grainy squishy fondant within. The chocolate’s mild cocoa flavor was barely noticeable and was mostly overwhelmed by the strong mintiness of the fondant.
That mint was refreshing but not mentholated/cooling. It was just a hair too sweet – enough that it felt cloying when I ate two thins in a row.
I thought these were a lovely treat. They look elegant enough to put out for guests, which is pretty good for a mass-market chocolate item. You couldn’t say that about York Peppermint Patties, which is the closest thing to these we’ve got on the American market. An OM.
Category: chocolate, European, mint, Nestle, OM, received as gift, review |
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February 8th, 2013 by Rosa
This week’s review items come courtesy of Nana and Justin, a couple of college friends of mine who are living, teaching, and blogging in Japan and who are kind enough to mail me Japanese goodies from time to time. I’m closing out the week with a review of a Japanese Kit Kat that is a Kyoto speciality – it’s Yatsuhashi flavored!
What is Yatsuhashi, you ask? Wikipedia to the rescue! Apparently, it’s a famous regional dessert of Kyoto that’s made of glutinous rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon.
The Yatsuhashi Kit Kat had classic Kit Kat‘s flaky, crisp wafers but was covered with a crumbling white coating. Alas, the coating was falling to pieces by the time the Kit Kats got to me, so I wasn’t able to get a good glamour shot.
Nana and Justin and others have sent me Japanese Kit Kats for review that all arrived in pristine shape, so I think the disintegration was due to the fact that the coating was frosting-like, whereas other coatings have been chocolate-based. Still, though it didn’t look that great, it tasted awesome!
The white coating melted mostly smoothly on my tongue and tasted like vanilla frosting made from fresh cream. Every once in a while, I hit a crunch from a grain of granulated sugar. The whole thing was topped off by a sweet cinnamon kiss that floated above the sweet and crunchy confection.
It sorted of reminded me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or a crunchy Snickerdoodle, except that the vanilla frosting coating had a dairy freshness to it that made it even better. Yet again, I must lament that the Kit Kat flavors available to us in the U.S. are pretty lamely tame in comparison to what’s available in Japan. An OM.
For alternative takes, check out Eataku’s review (which clued me in on the proper name for this treat) or Jim’s Chocolate Mission (which helped confirm that I had the right name for these guys).
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), cookie, Nestle, OM, review |
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January 23rd, 2013 by Rosa
I’ve often benefitted from friends who travel abroad and bring me back international candy. My friends Emma and Jason recently went to Japan, and Nana and Justin just sent me yet another package, so I’ve got some new Asian goodies in the pipeline.
These Kit Kat Gran Wafers from Emma and Jason came in a box of 10 individually wrapped fingers. The box was way bigger than it needed to be, as it was only half full.
Sad because these Kit Kats were delicious! I would’ve loved to have twice as many in the box.
Unlike regular Kit Kats, the Gran Wafers were totally nekkid. As in missing an outer coating of chocolate, wafers exposed to the world. They were much thicker than regular Kit Kats as well, with five layers of wafer cookie sandwiching four thin layers of deeply dark chocolate.
The crunch of the thick stack of wafers was quite substantial. The layers in between the wafers were made of actual chocolate rather than chocolate cream, giving the whole treat a substantial depth of cocoa flavor.
I loved this extra intense twist on the usual Kit Kat formula of wafer cookies and chocolate. An OMG.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, Nestle, OMG, received as gift, review |
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December 19th, 2012 by Rosa
I used to love SweeTarts when I was a kid. My parents used to buy me a big roll of them to keep me quiet on long car rides and such, so I think about them with fondness.
Nestle was handing out free samples of these Mini Chewy SweeTarts at Sweets and Snacks. I don’t think they’re a new product, so I’m not sure why they were being given away, but I was happy to nab a bag.
The Mini Chewies were psychedelically colored pellets, each about the size of my pinky nail. They’re the same flavors as regular SweeTarts, just a different shape and size and texture.
They had a crunchy shell with a center chew that was grainy and bouncy. Its texture reminded of gumballs, only the Mini Chewies dissolved as I chewed them.
Red/pink was malty and sour. Artificial red fruit flavors all taste the same to me, so I’m just taking a stab and guessing that this was supposed to be artificial cherry.
Orange tasted of citrus zest with a mellow orange fruit flavor and a sour finish. Yellow was similarly zesty but tarter and lemony.
Green was an uber-sweet candied apple, and purple was a medicinal-tasting fake grape. If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of fake grape candy.
These weren’t bad, but I’ve definitely outgrown the super sweet and artificial nature of these guys. An O.
Category: chewy, Nestle, O, review |
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November 2nd, 2012 by Rosa
I got this bag of Wonka Kazoozles as a free sample from the Nestle booth at Sweets and Snacks. It was strawberry melon-flavored “delickoricious chewy candy”. Delickoricious is a ridickoricious word.
I’m not sure how close my sample was to the final packaging, as it said “sales sample – not labeled for retail sale”, and though it claimed that it contained “2 strawberry ropes with watermelon filling”, my bag had 4. The bag itself was crackly, and its inner surface was reflectively shiny, like mylar.
The Kazoozles looked like red and green versions of my beloved filled licorice pencils and smelled like a bag of red fruit snacks. Each was about 6 inch long and softly floppy, so that its top half slowly bent over when I held it upright. Ridickoricious.
The candied red outside was stiffly chewy, similar to a Twizzlers but softer and less stick-in-your-teeth-y. It tasted of sweet fake berry with just a smidge of plasticky undertone.
The green center was a finely grainy fondant with the texture of dried up frosting. I didn’t get any watermelon flavors, candied or otherwise; it just tasted generically sweet to me.
As the Kazoozle’s chew continued, that sweetness intensified and brightened near the end. It wasn’t a super classy or fancy candy, but I enjoyed it enough.
It’s not quite the perfect replacement for licorice pencils – Kazoozle’s have a higher rope to fondant ratio than the fatly fondant-y pencils that I like – but it’s pretty good. An O. I’d give it an O+ if I could; it’s not quite at OM level.
Cybele from Candy Blog reviewed a different iteration of Kazoozles a few years ago. Hers look fatter and actually were 2 to a package.
Category: chewy, Nestle, O, review, Wonka |
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September 12th, 2012 by Neil
I spent my weekend trying to win Duke basketball tickets by sleeping outside, so I’m turning things over to my ex-pat friend Neil for a couple of reviews. ~Rosa
This bar that I picked up in Switzerland has been tempting me ever since I bought it. Cailler is a Nestle brand with a long Swiss history, a fact I learned as I wrote this up (though it was probably on the wrapper. I was too excited to open it to read it).
I’m a sucker for caramel. And while I’m new to sea salt, I’m fairly convinced it’s a great addition to caramel. This bar came out as a thank-you treat for some friends, who happily agreed to play along with my photographing and note-taking.
It’d been a warm day here, and I knew we were waiting until after dinner to have the chocolate, so I let it hang out in the fridge for a while. This made the initial bar-breaking a bit challenging, but no more so than many off-the-shelf bars. Indeed, it was crunchy to the bite.
The chocolate was smooth and creamy, but in this instance it was definitely just a vehicle for the caramel. I tasted toffee, then sweet butter. It was like a really classy Heath bar! The caramel was sticky for us–it probably would’ve been more liquid if it had been at room temperature.
Fiona noted that the caramel and salt build, then there’s a chewy finish. I agreed that the salt took a while to emerge, but then it lingered pleasantly. I enjoyed the stickiness the caramel offered.
The pieces of the bar have kind of a high-tech look about them, and the shape makes breaking a bit challenging, but it’s visually appealing all the same.
Overall, a very enjoyable experience. OM for this!
Category: caramel, European, guest post, Nestle, OM, review |
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August 22nd, 2012 by Rosa
On Monday, I reviewed Skinny Cow‘s Milk Chocolate Dreamy Clusters. Today, I’m covering their Heavenly Crisp bars in Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate, which were also free samples from their booth at Sweets and Snacks.
Both bars were 110 calories and described as “delicate wafers layered with delicious milk chocolate creme” or “delicious peanut butter creme”.
They were also coated with a thin layer of fake chocolate, as indicated by the label “milk chocolate flavor”. Hooray mockolate! Milk chocolate flavor had a white decorative drizzle; peanut butter’s was golden brown.
Palm oil appears several times in the ingredient list in various forms, and cocoa butter is completely missing; hence the mockolate designation. They were a mess to unwrap, as the mockolate was all melty and messy, even at room temperature.
The wafers, at least, were great. They were the lightest, airiest wafers that I’ve ever encountered in candy. Must help keep the calorie count low! They added a pleasant, if flimsy, crunch and a neutral toastiness.
The milk chocolate flavored version did have a nice malty cocoa flavor, likely due to the cocoa powder on the ingredient list. It had a well-balanced, light sweetness that went well with the toasty wafers.
Peanut butter flavor had actual peanuts and added a roasted nutty flavor. It felt a little pastier in my mouth than the chocolate did and didn’t stand up as nicely against the wafers.
I really like the light crunch of the wafers and how they played off the light sweetness of the other ingredients, but the lack of real chocolate was a bummer that brought these bars down. An O.
You can read Cybele of Candy Blog’s take on these. I agree with her assessment to pass these over in favor of chocolate with you know, actual chocolate.
Category: cookie, mockolate, Nestle, O, peanut butter, review |
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August 20th, 2012 by Rosa
Ira Glass had a great quote in his recent NY Times interview: “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I only believe in pleasures. People who call reading detective fiction or eating dessert a guilty pleasure make me want to puke. Pedophilia is a pleasure a person should have guilt about. Not chocolate.”
I agree with Ira (because we’re on a first name basis, of course) 100%. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying sweets – as long as you’re not eating yourself into a diabetic coma.
Skinny Cow isn’t as horrible about inducing chocolate shame as other brands have been, but the whole idea of diet candy is still pretty silly. Also what’s up with the name “Skinny Cow”? Are consumers the Cow that wants to be skinny?
The wrapper of this package of Dreamy Clusters, which I got as free samples at Sweets and Snacks, prominently noted that it has 120 calories. It also shows 5 clusters, which is exactly how many were in my pack.
The clusters were described as “crunchy crisps and creamy caramel drenched in milk chocolate.” Each lumpy cluster was between quarter and half-dollar-sized.
The crisps were indeed crunchy. I think they were rice, as rice flour was in the ingredients list, but they were far stiffer and more substantial than any rice crisps I’ve ever had before.
The caramel was chewy but not sticky. You can see from the photo that it had a little stretch but not much pull. It tasted darkly sweet and, though rather one note, was enjoyable enough.
The milk chocolate coating on the clusters was real milk chocolate with actual cocoa butter. Hooray! It was mild and generic tasting, with no notable caramel or dusky cream notes, but again, pleasant enough.
These presented a tasty mix of flavors and textures, like bite-sized 100 Grand bars (which I love). The extra crunchy crisps really elevated these to an OM rating. I think the marketing is dumb, and 5 per pack ain’t much, but portion control is the point here, I suppose.
Candy Blog’s Cybele reviewed the dark chocolate version of these over a year ago.
Category: caramel, chocolate, Nestle, OM, review |
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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 |
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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 |
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