Archive for the 'O' Category

Shangri La Tea Chocolate – Milk Chocolate Chamomile Mint and Dark Chocolate Black Currant

October 2nd, 2014 by Rosa

Shangri La is a tea company that makes tea-flavored chocolate, of which I got free samples to review. I covered the Earl Grey and Masala Chai on Tuesday, and today, I’m reviewing the remaining two bars: Chamomile Mint and Black Currant.

Chamomile Mint had the same 38% milk chocolate base as the Earl Grey and Masala Chai. Its back was a riot of different tea leaves and flower bits: chamomile, licorice, spearmint, orange peel, and peppermint.

The milk chocolate took on an entirely different flavor profile with this different tea blend, and the base milk chocolate’s caramel notes were lost. Instead, it tasted minty, with some of the sharp bitterness of anise and some floral notes from the chamomile and orange peel.

While I appreciated the flavor complexity, the texture was a bit off for me, as the larger flower bits and other crunchy parts didn’t melt away, and I had to spit them out. Like the Masala Chai, this gets a demotion to an O because of the texture.

Black Currant was the only one of the set that had a dark chocolate base, a 66% cacao. It was flavored with black tea and “natural flavor”, which gave it a brightly fruity scent.

The dark chocolate snapped easily and sharply. It didn’t melt with any noticeable texture so much as just disappeared, leaving behind the crunchy tea leaves.

The “natural flavor’ added a noticeable dark red berry fruitiness, while the tea leaves made the chocolate finish with a noticeable astringency. I liked the flavor but didn’t like the lingering dryness. An O as well.

I imagine these would be great gifts for tea-drinkers. If only tea tasted as good as these chocolate bars!

Stay tuned tomorrow for something fun about these Shangri La bars!

Category: chocolate, O, review | No Comments »

Shangri La Tea Chocolate – Milk Chocolate Earl Grey and Masala Chai

September 30th, 2014 by Rosa

Shangri La is a tea company that’s now making inroads into tea-flavored chocolate. They sent me free samples of their line-up to review. I’ll cover the Earl Grey and Masala Chai today, and the Black Currant and Chamomile Mint on Thursday.

Both the Early Grey and Masala Chai were made with a 38% cacao milk chocolate base. The 0.85 oz squares were imprinted with the word Organic, even though the packaging doesn’t note organic certification or organic ingredients anywhere. Not sure what’s up with that…

The back of the Earl Grey bar was flecked with black tea leaves. It smelled earthy and woodsy.

The milk chocolate broke easily with a soft snap. It melted in my mouth with a velvety, matte texture. The tea leaves had a dry crunch before they, too, melted away.

The milk chocolate base had lightly sweet caramel cocoa flavors, while the black tea and bergamot added a subtle woodsiness with a lightly floral finish that paired wonderfully with the chocolate. An OM.

The Masala Chai had a warm, spicy scent, thanks to its infusion of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom in addition to the black tea it contained. Cinnamon came through the strongest and paired well with the chocolate, though it also made it taste sweeter.

While I enjoyed the flavors of the Masala Chai, I had some problems with the texture. The black tea crunched and melted away, but there were also tooth-breaking bits of cinnamon bark that I had to spit out. An O because I don’t like having to pick chocolate bar leftovers out of my mouth.

More Shangri La reviews to come on Thursday, and something fun for you readers on Friday!

Category: chocolate, O, OM, review | No Comments »

Churchill’s Confectionery Carousel – Toffee and Vanilla Fudge

September 24th, 2014 by Rosa

Churchill’s Confectionery is family-run, London-based company that is now making inroads in the U.S. via shops like Williams Sonoma and Bloomingdale’s. They recently sent me a free sample of their Carousel tin filled with toffee and vanilla fudge.

The tin itself was beautiful: a round cylinder with a tented top and embossed with colourful (see what I did there) carousel horses. The tin held two bags of individually wrapped candies, one of round dairy toffees and another of rectangles of vanilla fudge.

The vanilla fudge squares were softy grainy and easy to bite through. They chewed up into a pleasant, pliable mush that melted in my mouth.

The fudge had a mellow, round, floral sweetness that finished with a hint of fruitiness. I usually dislike fudge because I find it too sweet, but I enjoyed these. An O.

The dairy toffee was firm, but I was able to bite through it cleanly. It had a sticky chew that left bits of toffee wedged in the nooks and crannies of my teeth.

The flavor was sweet and buttery, with just an edge of burnt sugar deliciousness. I’m a sucker for British toffees, and while I prefer the deeper scorchy notes of Walker’s Treacle Toffee, this lighter toffee was good enough for an OM.

Category: caramel, European, O, OM, review, toffee | No Comments »

Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons

July 7th, 2014 by Rosa

These British Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons were a surprise international treat in the free sample MunchPak that I received a while ago and am still slowly munching my way through.

The buttons were little thumbnail-sized disks with a flat side and a domed side. Their flat side had the scripted Cadbury logo imprinted on it.

They were the perfect size and shape to slip onto my tongue and smash against the roof of my mouth. Doing so caused the buttons to dissolve into a tongue-coatingly thick and creamy puddle of milk chocolate.

The Cadbury’s milk chocolate was quite sweet, with dusky caramel flavors amidst the cocoa. As far as mass-produced milk chocolate goes, I much prefer Cadbury’s to the sour milk tinge of Hershey’s.

The buttons were a fun diversion that were well-sized for slow savoring. An O because I probably wouldn’t buy them for a snack – there are better milk chocolates out there, especially if you’re willing to spend an extra buck or two – but I wouldn’t turn them down if they were offered to me for free.

Category: Cadbury, chocolate, European, O, review | Comments Off

Bocandy sample – Ptichye Moloko (“Bird’s Milk”) from Russia

July 2nd, 2014 by Rosa

Ptichye Moloko was another eastern European treat that I received as part of my free sample of Bocandy, a new subscription treat service that specializes in international candy. According to the folks at Bocandy, “Ptichye Moloko” means “Bird’s Milk” in Russian and is so named because “Bird’s Milk” is a Slavic idiom that means an unattainable gift (when was the last time you saw milk coming from a bird?).

The Pitchye Moloko was a squashed cube (so not actually a cube) consisting of a chocolate shell around a snow-white whipped center. Mine had melted a bit before arriving, so they weren’t their most photogenic by the time I got them.

That chocolate shell was incredibly sweet and a little crumbly. In fact, I caught some crunchy graininess to it, I think because some of the filling’s sugar had crystallized onto the chocolate.

At first bite, the shell was way too sweet and just tasted like sugar to me. After my tastebuds were able to adjust from the original sugar shock and awe, however, some nice coconut and cocoa notes came through.

The marshmallow filling at the center of the Pitchye Moloko was great. It was soft and fluffy in texture, and though sweet, also had a lovely dairy whipped cream note to it.

I hated the first sugarbomb bite, then loved the rest after my tastebuds recalibrated. An OM.

As noted on Monday, you can get a free Bocandy sample if you pay $3.50 shipping. Bocandy is also currently running a giveaway of 3 year-long subscriptions.

Category: chocolate, European, marshmallow, O, review, Russian | 3 Comments »

Natasha’s Just Brittle

May 27th, 2014 by Rosa

Natasha’s Just Brittle is a homegrown brittle making operation based out of Baltimore, MD. They sent me samples of their cashew brittle, mixed nut brittle, and Cracker Jack brittle to review.

The brittle was attractively, rustically packaged in a corrugated cardboard bag. Each ~2″ x 1.5″ sample slab that I received was individually wrapped. I noticed that the brittle softened and took on moisture after just one day of being exposed to the air, so that packaging was a good idea.

The brittles were buttery to the touch and snapped easily under my fingertips. When crunched with my teeth, it easily shattered before congealing into a tasty chunk of chewy burnt sugar in my molars.

The cashew brittle was sweetly crunchy and nutty, then took on a too-strong saltiness that lingered in the finish and brought an almost sour tinge to the toffee of the brittle. I like cashews for their softer texture and more mild, clean nutty flavors, so I enjoyed this, aside from the saltiness.

I have no idea what nuts went into the mixed nut brittle, but it tasted noticeably different from the cashew brittle. Its nuts’ flavors were more roasty with a tinge of acridness – much stronger nutty flavors than those of the cashew – underneath the  saltiness of the base brittle.

Cracker Jack brittle was my favorite of the three. It had chunks of caramelized popcorn and peanuts embedded into that sweet and salty brittle.

It tasted like Cracker Jack but with the ratios turned upside down so that caramel/cooked sugar was the dominant note, followed by nutty peanuts and toasted popcorn. Again, however, it was a tad too salty for my taste.

Natasha’s Just Brittle brags about how their basic recipe starts with sugar, butter, sea salt, and nuts. While I enjoyed their products, and the natural flavors of their ingredients do shine through, I felt that the sea salt was a little too heavily used.

Instead of finishing with clean brittle flavors, the brittles ended with a lingering saltiness that had me reaching for a glass of water to wash it away. An O.

Category: nuts, O, review, toffee | Comments Off

Barrels of Yum hard candies – Dilly Dally (Dill Pickle) and Classic Collection

April 7th, 2014 by Rosa

 Barrels of Yum are barrel-shaped hard candies that extend the trite root beer barrel concept to a wider variety of flavors. They were developed with Candyman David Klein, who worked on the original Jelly Bellies, so I had high hopes for their flavors…

And they certainly delivered! I got free samples of the Dilly Dally pickle-flavored barrels as well as their Classic Collection to review. I’ll start with the Dilly Dallies because Pickle Candy?

The individually wrapped Dilly Dallies were bright green with a smooth melt on my tongue. They tasted eerily like a sweetened dill pickle. I got a little tartness, as well as garlicky notes.

It was weird to have something sweet and savory and so unnervingly accurate. I can’t see myself wanting to snack on these, but they’re a fun and spot-on novelty treat. An O for the fun taste experience.

The Classic Collection had more snackable flavors. Like the Dilly Dallies, they were individually wrapped, which makes them easily shareable.

Orange was Orange Cream. It tasted like orange soda, smooth and sweet. There were some nearly herbal undertones that made me think of that lingering sassafrassiness that you get from root bear.

Peach Cobbler was a red orange that was hard to distinguish from the orange cream. It tasted generically fruit and bright with occasional tart notes. I didn’t get any peach flavors, but still enjoyed its pleasant flavor.

Sour Watermelon was pink. It tasted like artificial watermelon candies with a subtle tartness. Not my favorite, as watermelon candies taste nothing like real watermelons to me.

Light brown was Apple Pie, which started off tasted of canned apple pie filling before it took on brighter, fruitier notes of fresh apple with hints of bright tartness peeking through.

Dark brown was Chai Tea, an unusual hard candy flavor. It had strong floral notes of tea with herbal undertones. Not my favorite, but I’m also generally not a tea person.

Green was Granny Smith Apple. It mostly tart and tangy, like most green apple candies, but with added complexity from apple peel notes.

Hot Cinnamon was red, and it tasted fairly standard for a cinnamon candy, with a flavor reminiscent of Red Hots. It had a nice heat to it that was present without being overwhelming.

Finally Blueberry Crumble was a deep blue that was tart with plummy blueberry notes. It didn’t taste like real blueberries, but it had a nice intensity of flavor.

Overall, I found the Classic Collection from Barrel of Yum to be a tasty assortment with many snackable flavors (though I’d give you all my Chai Teas and save the Hot Cinnamons for after-meal mints). An OM.

Category: hard candy, novelty, O, OM, review | 2 Comments »

Fruit Vines Bites – Strawberry and Cherry

March 24th, 2014 by Rosa

I got these Fruit Vines Bites as free samples the day before I left for Shanghai. Now that I’m back and mostly no longer jet-lagged, I can get around to reviewing them!

Fruit Vines Bites are a new candy from the Red Vines folks that currently come in cherry and strawberry. They were little chunks of chewy fruit candy about 3/4 of a inch long and comprised of three stuck together ropes.

They were quite soft and easy to bite through, with a bit of a tendency to get stuck in the nooks and crannies of my teeth as I chomped them up. The lightly sweet fruity flavors intensely permeated the whole bite, and both had just a hint of a wheaty undertone.

I liked the cherry (maroon) better than the strawberry due to its darker, more rotund red fruit flavor profile. It just seemed a little more intensely flavored in its plummy cherry-ness, which I liked.

Strawberry (red) was lighter and brighter in its candied red fruit flavor, which also made it a little more plastic tasting to my tongue. Not bad, but not as good as the cherry.

An OM for the cherry and O for the strawberry.

Category: chewy, O, OM, review | 2 Comments »

Kallari Sacha Roberto’s Recipe

February 21st, 2014 by Rosa

I buy so much chocolate that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of where I get everything. I’m 80% sure I bought this Kallari Sacha chocolate bar in Roberto’s Recipe at Cocoa Cinnamon, an awesome coffee shop that serves excellent drinking chocolate in Durham.

The 75% cacao bar was described as “extra rich dark chocolate with vanilla.” It was scored into 15 rectangles that broke with a sharp snap, but when I chewed it, it crumbled and thinly melted.

It started off sweet, then became earthy with mild coffee notes. Its flavor profile was a little muddy in a wholesome, natural way. Its slight sweetness developed into a mellow vanilla roundness to the finish.

I thought this was a nice dark chocolate bar, but its flavor profile wasn’t my thing. An O.

Category: chocolate, O, review | Comments Off

Hello Panda – Strawberry and Double Choco

January 27th, 2014 by Rosa

Hello Panda is Meiji‘s answer to Lotte’s Koala’s March: cream-filled cookies imprinted with cute animal cartoons. I got a couple of boxes to try in my free MunchPak samples, first in Strawberry and the following month in Double Choco.

The Hello Panda biscuits were either round or round with ears, like teddy bear heads. The Strawberry version was vanilla biscuits with strawberry cream, while Double Chocos were chocolate biscuits with “choco” cream.

Compared to the Koala’s March, the Hello Pandas had a more substantial crunch and a greater cookie to filling ratio. Strawberry’s biscuit was lightly sweet, while the center strawberry cream had the texture of a solid frosting and a floral sweetness to its artificial strawberry flavor.

The chocolate cookie of the Double Choco was darker in both appearance and flavor. It had a slight cocoa bittersweetness, like a mild Oreo cookie, and its chocolate filling was creamy with a slightly greasy feel.

I liked the Double Choco better than the Strawberry, which was too artificially floral for my taste. I did wish, however, that the Double Choco had more intensity of chocolate flavor and wasn’t quite so greasy. An O for both.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, Meiji, O, review | Comments Off