December 7th, 2012 by Rosa
Many of the free samples that I got at Sweets and Snacks were in “not for retail sale” packaging. Usually that just meant that they weren’t properly labeled with nutrition facts and ingredients, but in the case of these Clark Bites, the packaging was radically different from their final form.
The yellow Where’s Zipper packaging had a link to a website with the backstory for these Bites. The Squirrel Nut Zipper was mad at Clark Bars, so it tried to blow them up, which turned them into these 1-inch squarish bites.
I’ve previously reviewed and enjoyed regular Clark Bars. They’ve been reformulated since my last review; now they’re made with real milk chocolate, and the Clark Bites are too.
Most of my Clark Bites’ centers were this peanut butter toffee mixture that cleaved and crumbled and shattered when bitten into. I had one weird Bite that was entirely cleaning cleaving toffee (no shattering!), but I think that was an anomaly.
Those centers tasted lightly nutty with lots of brown sugar sweetness. The milk chocolate coating was quite thick, which amped up the sweetness of the chocolate to a level that was a bit too much for me and got cloying after a Bite or two.
I approve of the switch to real chocolate, though I think a milder, malty milk chocolate or a dark chocolate would’ve worked better for me. I still love that peanut butter/toffee center, though, and I enjoyed these when I ate them one at a time, so an OM.
Cybele of Candy Blog reviewed these in their current packaging and gave them an 8/10.
Category: chocolate, Necco, OM, peanut butter, review |
No Comments »
November 30th, 2012 by Rosa
I’m so terrible about impulse buys at Trader Joe’s. Everything looks awesome! Like these Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles.
What a mouthful of a title! Which came with a mouthful of a blurb on the box: “our three most popular flavors combined to create a sensational, sweet, salty bite. Rich, melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate truffles with a creamy peanut butter center, layered with buttery caramel and a subtle salty finish.”
Each truffle came individually wrapped in shiny copper mylar. They were gorgeously shiny domes, the shape of giant gumdrops.
The chocolate at the bottom of the dome was much thicker than the chocolate of the upper shell. That chocolate had a nice snap and a smooth melt with an incredibly deep cocoa flavor.
The caramel was liquid and runny and left a light grain after most of it had melted away. It tasted of sweet butterscotch, with an especially buttery finish.
The peanut butter was smoothly creamy with a dry nuttiness. The nuttiness was noticeable even against the chocolate and caramel, but I wish it had been nuttier.
The truffle was a delicious mix of sweet and salty and nutty. I think the peanut butter flavor could’ve been turned up more, but it was still a darn good mass-produced truffle. An OM.
Category: caramel, chocolate, OM, peanut butter, review, Trader Joe's |
No Comments »
November 26th, 2012 by Rosa
Last year, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates sent me free samples of their bittersweet drinking chocolate, but it never really got cold enough in North Carolina for me to bust it out. Recently, I got a free sample of their cinnamon chipotle drinking chocolate, which I made to get me through Thanksgiving prep.
Hedonist described their Cinnamon Chipotle drinking chocolate as “a thick, spicy dark chocolate beverage to warm your soul.” The directions were pretty simple: stir 3 tablespoons of the mix into 3/4 cup of very hot water or milk and enjoy.
The mix was made of bits of chocolate, cocoa powder, and cinnamon and chipotle spices. It smelled strongly of cinnamon with undertones of cocoa and a spicy smokiness.
The thickness and richness of the resulting drinking chocolate is really up to you – just add more mix or less water to change the concentration. I wasn’t super careful when I made my cup. I used a mix of hot water and milk and just kept adding mix until the thickness was to my liking.
The drinking chocolate started off sweet and chocolately before the chipotle come through with a lightly smoky undertone and strongly spicy kick. Cinnamon, which was so strong in the scent, was less dominant in the flavor, where it provided just a light hint. Rich cocoa undertones played below the drink’s flavor profile.
The chipotle definitely warmed up my tongue, and the tingling that it provided lingered for quite a while. This was not a drink for those who are scared of spiciness (for those people, I’d recommend the bittersweet version).
It was, however, a great drink if you love spicy chocolate. Turning the chocolate into a slowly sippable treat was a nice way to maximize the amount of chocolate enjoyment time that you get for your calories.
A $12 tin makes 5 standard servings, making it about a dozen times pricier than Swiss Miss cocoa mix. BUT it’s infinitely better and feels like a really special gourmet indulgence. An OM.
If you’d like to try this or any of Hedonist’s delicious chocolates for yourself, or if you need to pick up some holiday gifts (the drinking chocolate tins would make great hostess gifts!), you can get 20% off your online order from now through December 1st with the coupon code ZOMG!
Do yourself a favor and nab some of their salted caramels while you’re there.
Category: chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, OM, review |
No Comments »
November 14th, 2012 by Rosa
Finally! I’ve made it to the last 2 (of 8) Perugina bars that were generously given to me as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. Last Friday, I covered the “plain” chocolate bars, Monday was chocolate with nuts, and today are the last two, Cappuccino and White Chocolate.
Cappuccino was “crunchy grains of coffee enveloped in milk chocolate.” The subtitle called it “milk chocolate with cappuccino crispy,” so I thought maybe it would be full of cappuccino rice crisps.
Visually, it was obvious to tell that the bar was full of stuff, as its bottom was all bumpy. Somehow, though, that didn’t translate to its texture.
I didn’t feel any crunch; just a tiny amount of subtle starchy grit remained on my tongue after the thick and creamy chocolate melted away, and I was really working to try to find it. I guess the crispies just got dissolved in the chocolate?
The cappuccino bar smelled and tasted strongly of coffee. I had high expectations for a coffee-flavored chocolate bar from Italy, but alas, I found it to be too sweet. More Mocha Frappuccino than fine Italian espresso.
The White Chocolate bar boasted that it was “enhanced by the delicacy of natural vanilla flavor.” The ingredients list was just sugar, milk, cocoa butter, whey, and less than 1% soy lecithin and natural vanilla flavor.
That’s impressively sparse – note the lack of palm oil or any other non cocoa-butter fat.
It had a light snap with a thickly creamy melt. It started off sweet, sweet enough to bring a tiny tinge to my throat, then took on a rotund fruitiness before finishing with a vanilla scent.
Both of these bars were enjoyable enough in small doses (half a square or less) but quickly become too sweet for me. I wouldn’t turn to them for regular snacking, but the remainder of these bars are going to make my next batch of cookies taste awesome. An O.
Category: chocolate, coffee, European, O, Perugina, review, white chocolate |
No Comments »
November 12th, 2012 by Rosa
Today I’m reviewing three more of the Perugina bars that I got as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. I’d covered the three plain bars last week; today’s theme is chocolate with nuts.
Milk Chocolate with Almonds was described as “a crunchy almond caramel blend with the delicate flavor of milk chocolate.” Its break was soft, and like the plain milk chocolate bar, tasted of caramel and malt.
The bits of almond within the bar were super tiny. They added some crunch and a hint of nuttiness, but the overall effect of the additional almonds was subtle.
Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts, with the addition of “crunchy caramelized hazelnut pieces”, was similar in flavor and texture to the almond bar, only its nuts added a dryer crunch. I didn’t get the great roasted nuttiness that I expected from the hazelnuts.
Dark Chocolate with Almonds had a strong, sharp snap. The chocolate itself was already crunchy, and the nuts added more crunch and grit.
The dark chocolate base was deliciously complex: strong cocoa flavors with a light fruitiness and notes of coffee. The almonds added a subtle but noticeable roasty nuttiness.
I enjoyed the Dark Chocolate with Almonds enough to give it an OM. As for the milk + nuts bars, they weren’t nutty enough for me, so just an O.
Category: chocolate, European, nuts, O, OM, Perugina, review |
No Comments »
November 9th, 2012 by Rosa
My first, “Whoa, I’m at a candy convention” moment at Sweets and Snacks came when the guy at the Perugina booth sent me off with one of each of their chocolate bars. Life is good when an Italian gentleman in a fine suit gives you loads of free chocolate. Can that happen more often? Please?
I walked off with 8 bars in all, plus some Baci and their new Baci White. Today, I’m just covering the three “plain” chocolate bars.
All of the bars were 3.5 oz and came packaged in paperboard envelopes that opened width-wise to reveal (and easily release) the foil wrapped bars. The bars themselves were scored into a 2X5 grid of rectangles, each stamped with a cacao pod.
Milk chocolate had a solid snap, though its chew was soft-ish. It melted with a velvety smooth texture, but it didn’t melt in a way that coated my tongue. The flavor was all caramel and malt, like a Whopper with better chocolate and in chocolate bar form.
LUISA Dark was from the “original and exclusive recipe by Luisa Spagnoli, founder of Perugina” and was 51% cacao. It had a sharper snap than that of the milk chocolate. It didn’t melt well until I chomped it up into little bits – then it melted smoothly.
The flavors were quite intense, sweet with the fruity taste of berries. It thickened at the end of the melt and had a bittersweet finish.
Finally, bittersweet chocolate was 70% cacao. Its snap, as expected, was even sharper than those of the milk or LUISA. As I chomped through it, it cracked and dryly shattered between my teeth.
The flavor here was pure cocoa at its best. Deeply earthy, it tasted like good cocoa powder smells.
Though it wasn’t sweet for much of its flavor profile, it also avoided being bitter, making its name sort of a misnomer. Finally, it finished with just a subtle hint of sweetness.
The Perugina milk chocolate wasn’t my favorite milk chocolate – I like my milk chocolates so thick that it glues my tongue to the roof of my mouth – but I loved the flavor intensity of the LUISA and the bittersweet. A O for the milk and an OM for the other two.
Category: chocolate, European, O, OM, Perugina, review |
No Comments »
November 5th, 2012 by Rosa
Now that Halloween is over, winter holiday chocolate should be making its way onto store shelves. I believe Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Peppermint is sold year-round in Europe (any European readers want to weigh in?), but here in the U.S. it’s a limited edition for winter. Mine was a free sample from Sweets and Snacks.
The wrapper promised “a refreshing peppermint filling.” It had a strong, pepperminty scent with just an edge of bitterness. Each square was a white peppermint fondant covered in dark chocolate.
The thin dark chocolate coating was crunchy to bite through and smooth in its melt. It had a deep cocoa flavor and finished with a light sweetness.
The peppermint fondant was soft and thickly squishy. It tasted like it smelled: pepperminty with a hint of herbal bitterness.
I found it pleasantly refreshing but not effervescent or super mouth-cooling. It was much more mild than a York Peppermint Pattie and had a higher chocolate to peppermint fondant ratio. I welcomed the change: an OM.
Category: chocolate, European, limited edition, mint, OM, review, Ritter Sport |
No Comments »
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 |
1 Comment »
October 22nd, 2012 by Neil
As I try to recover from a week in New Orleans, ex-pat friend Knile has a couple of guest posts on deck. ~Rosa
I don’t remember where I picked up this Chocolove bar. It could have been downtown here or on my Swiss trip. Either way, I clearly didn’t read the label closely to find out that it’s made in one of the Fifty Nifty United States. Rosa’s reviewed other Chocolove products before, but not this one, so at least it’s somewhat novel that way.
The bar looked a bit dusty and dried up when I opened it, which detracted from its otherwise curvaceous and heart-icon-covered appearance. Each piece broke off cleanly; only a few flakes fell on my coffee table.
The chocolate itself was fairly unremarkable, with a thin flavor. I wanted it to be creamier. The bits of raspberry provided a very welcome crunchiness, though their fruitiness took a while to build up, not at all the “tart… burst of flavor” the package promised.
Not a huge winner for me in the end, but maybe my expectations were set too high. This gets an O.
Category: chocolate, Chocolove, guest post, O, review |
1 Comment »
October 19th, 2012 by CamNMere
I was at the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans earlier this week, so I’m turning things over to some globe-trotting friends. 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
Here’s the rest of the Meiji Gummies first covered on Wednesday.
Cameron: A bit firmer than the rest, but unfortunately the bog-standard strawberry flavor that you get from any mass-produced strawberry gummy – it tastes like cheap jam. I’m not totally opposed to it, and perhaps it’s better for a mass market product like this to go with the de facto standard, but it certainly isn’t an innovative or unique take on the flavor. O
Meredith: I have a problem with a lot of strawberry-flavored candy: I can’t stand peanut butter, and apparently over the years I’ve picked up an PBJ-mediated distaste for certain mass-produced strawberry jam flavors too.
I like fresh strawberries and some strawberry-flavored products (again, Hi-Chew comes to mind), but this sort of mass-produced strawberry jam flavor is seriously offputting to me. This strawberry gum actually had a peanut butter aftertaste for me that is almost certainly illusory, so I have to give it a highly subjective –.
And finally, the odd one out – the white grape flavor, from the Pupurun line. (Which has a particularly adorable mascot.)
Cameron: No question, this is a superior gummy to the other product line. It’s super soft, with a center that’s just barely not liquid, and the flavor is very nice and authentic to the fruit. It’s got a bit of complexity that’s similar to the difference between seedless and seeded grapes, and some wineyness in the aftertaste. OMG
Meredith: First off, I loved the texture of the dome gummy! It has a sproingy outside layer and an oozy melty inside, much like an actual grape. And its flavor is spot on in the “real grape flavor” category. Makes me want to go to the market and buy some Finger Lakes grapes! A solid OMG.
We ended up rating the Pupurun a bit higher than Rosa did – I think this is the closest you’ll get to a direct comparison, so you can maybe say that we’re a hair less discerning than your usual host!
Category: --, guest post, gummi/gummy, Meiji, O, OMG, review |
No Comments »