Archive for the 'O' Category

Lovely Caramels

June 19th, 2013 by Rosa

The Lovely Candy Company was a new (founded this year!) candy company that made its debut at Sweets and Snacks last month. They make gluten-free licorice, caramels, and fruit chews (gluten-free was a continuing trend from 2012 to 2013), and I grabbed a couple of free samples of their caramels for review.

LC_Caramels_7oz_Bag_OL

I got one Original Chewy Caramel and one Chocolate Swirl Caramel. The samples that I got were loose, so the photos of the packaging shown here were from Lovely.

Both caramels were wrapped in wax paper. They were soft and sticky, and a few bits of caramel got left behind on the wax paper upon unwrapping.

The Original Chewy was a pretty golden brown, and it was indeed chewy, with a small amount of teeth sticking. They tasted sweet with a slightly fruity sour tinge to it.

The flavor was quite similar to that of Brach’s Milk Maid Caramels, more on the sweet and buttery side rather than the scorched and bittersweet. I prefer the latter type of caramel, but if you like the former, these make a nice alternative to Brach’s that’s with better ingredients.

The Chocolate Swirl was a pretty swirl of the Original golden brown and a darker cocoa brown. Its texture was similarly soft and chewy.

The Chocolate Swirl had a great cocoa depth of flavor. It didn’t taste of chocolate; it tasted of intense dark cocoa powder. I appreciated the deep cocoa complexity here.

The Original was nice, but I prefer my caramels with a darker complexity, so an O. The Chocolate Swirl, on the other, brought plenty of cocoa complexity, and they get an OM.

Category: caramel, chocolate, O, OM, review | Comments Off

DeMet’s Turtles Minis

June 14th, 2013 by Rosa

DeMet’s Turtles were another candy trying to make mini happen at Sweets and Snacks. They were handing free samples of their Turtles Minis, so I, of course, grabbed a little bag to review.

Despite my efforts to pick a bag that didn’t feel smushed (some of the sample bags obviously contained one large stuck together clump), my Mini Turtles looked less than pristine once I opened the bag.

To be fair, they had been packed and repacked into a variety of bags between the Expo floor and my candy photo shoot table, so I wasn’t surprised when they emerged a little worse for wear.

I think that’s going to be a problem for all of these unwrapped mini candies – without the extra padding and barriers of individual packaging, things are going to get scuffed. The Mini Turtles were especially affected because they oozed caramel and got stuck to each other.

Turtles is actually a trademarked name for these pecan-covered-in-caramel-and-dipped-in-chocolate treats, though I’ve seen “turtle” used generically in Mom-and-Pop candy shops. It is, after all, a cutely accurate description of the treats’ general shape.

The Mini Turtles had a super sweet milk chocolate over a chewy, sweet caramel. I found them both to be pretty one note (aka sugary) here and wished for some more flavor complexity out of them.

I was especially disappointed in the pecans. Really good pecans have a distinctive nuttiness to them, especially if they’ve been toasted. The pecans in my Mini Turtles were so bland that I wondered if they were actually walnuts, and they were sparse to boot.

I’ve had much better versions of Turtle-esque treats by other brands. Hammond’s Piggy Backs, for example, use higher quality ingredients and are a far superior (though also much more expensive) treat, and Lamme’s Longhorns are a hometown favorite.

At the mass market price that they’re shooting at, these Mini Turtles’ simplistic flavors just can’t compare. I could forgive them the eh chocolate and caramel, but the whole point of Turtles are the nuts! And the nuts here are bland. An O.

Category: caramel, chocolate, nuts, O, review | Comments Off

Kit Kat Minis

June 12th, 2013 by Rosa

One of the big things at Sweets and Snacks last month was miniaturized versions of larger treats. These mini versions were different from fun-sized candy bars that you see around holidays. Instead, they were unwrapped and packaged loosely in a larger bag.

The Hershey’s booth was passing out free samples of King Sized bags of Kit Kat Minis. In the rest of the world, Nestle makes Kit Kats; in the U.S., they’re made by Hershey’s.

By my guess, it took about 4 Kit Kat Minis to equal one Kit Kat finger. Each little mini was stamped with the Kit Kat logo.

They tasted just like regular Kit Kats, only with a higher chocolate to crispy wafer ratio. The milk chocolate was uber sweet with a sour tinge to the finish – very Hershey’s in flavor.

The crispy wafer centers added a pleasant crunch and helped mitigate the super sweetness of the chocolate. I used to love Kit Kats as a kid, but they’re now too sweet for me (Kit Kat Darks are better in my book).

If you like regular Kit Kats, these should be a buy for you – unless you have portion control problems. The unwrapped format makes them easily poppable! An O.

Category: chocolate, cookie, Hershey's, O, review | Comments Off

Air Heads Bites

June 10th, 2013 by Rosa

Air Heads Bites are a new product being handed out at Sweets and Snacks. We used to sell Air Heads as a fundraiser when I was in grade school, and I have nostalgic memories of tearing up Air Heads, wrapping the bits around my fingers, and licking my fingers until I was a sticky, sweet mess. Man, I was a gross kid…

If you’re unfamiliar with regular Air Heads, they’re flat strips of fruit-flavored chewy candy in a variety of flavors. My favorite was White Mystery, a sweet and tart citrusy flavor. Cybele’s got a review, if you want more detail.

Air Head Bites turned out to be flatted balls of candies slightly smaller in diameter than a Mentos (they’re made by the same company). Because of that similarity, I expected these to have a hard shell, as Mentos do.

Instead, the outermost layer was no different in texture than the rest of the treat, it was just smooth and shiny to start. That texture was just as if you’d balled up a bit of regular Air Head: a grainy chew with no stickiness.

The Bites came in five flavors: cherry, orange, lemon, watermelon, and blue raspberry. Cherry (red) tasted like a standard artificial cherry candy, sweet and red-fruity with a bit of a tannic cherry bite to it.

Orange was a mild citrus with no tartness, while lemon (yellow) tasted like a Lemonhead and brought a little edge of tartness that hit the back of my throat.

Watermelon (green) tasted just like watermelon candies, or barely at all like real watermelon. Here it was so juicy that it made me salivate and had sweet floral notes.

Finally, blue raspberry was the classic Air Head flavor, named after something not found in nature. It had a slightly seedy candied raspberry flavor.

These guys tasted just like their original Air Head counterparts but without the sticky mess, making them a much more portable version of the treat. I would’ve love these as a kid, but I think I’ve now outgrown Air Heads’ powerfully sweet and artificial flavors. An O.

 

Category: chewy, O, review | Comments Off

Trolli Soda Poppers

May 29th, 2013 by Rosa

I found these Trolli Soda Poppers while I was trolling (har har) the candy aisles of a local gas station. I’d never heard of them before, but they’ve apparently been around long enough to warrant a “New Look!”

The Soda Poppers came in Cherry Cola, Root Beer, Orange Soda, Lemon Lime, and Cola flavors. As a whole, the bag smelled of root beer, and a faint root beer tinge tainted all of the gummis’ flavors.

Each gummi was shaped like a little soda can and imprinted with text naming its flavor. They were soft with a pleasantly bouncy chew.

Orange soda (orange) was a mild floral orange with a faintly fizzy undertone. The flavor was neither bright nor tangy, so I only found it middling as far as gummi oranges go.

Lemon lime (yellow green) was sweet with a mild citrus undertone. I wanted it to be more tart and tangy.

Cola (reddish brown) tasted mildly of, well, cola. Cherry cola (red) tasted similar with a fizzy, generically red fruity flavor.

Finally, root beer (purplish brown) was the strongest of all the flavors, hence its ability to contaminate all the rest of the gummis. To be fair, its root beer flavor was pretty spot on; it just isn’t my favorite soda flavor.

While I loved the texture of these guys, I thought most of the flavors could’ve used a lot more punch. Only an because I wanted more flavor that these guys didn’t deliver.

Category: Ferrara, gummi/gummy, O, review | Comments Off

See’s Assorted Chocolates Week 2 – Day 1

April 29th, 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.

Today, I’ll go through the four Truffles that I bought. First up, the trademarked See’s Apple Pie Truffle, which they describe as rich buttercream with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon. This was a vaguely heart-shaped white chocolate truffle with a light brown center filling.

The white chocolate coating was sweet and took a backseat to the filling, which was quite the standout. It was extremely bright and fruity with a spot-on apple pie-filling flavor.

It tasted intensely of sweet cooked apples with just a smidge of cinnamon. I swear there was also some notes of toasted crust as well, or at least the crust of McDonald’s apple pie. It was basically a slice of apple pie distilled into a truffle. OM.

Almond Truffle was “rich dark chocolate buttercream with ground almonds”. It was a soft square of chocolate ganache covered in little bits of almond that were bound together with some white chocolate-looking butter thing.

The ganache center was sweet with a mild cocoa flavor, while the almonds in the coating were roasted and nutty. While the almonds were nice, I found them to be too tannic. They sapped all the moisture out of my mouth, so just an O.

Cafe au Lait Truffle was simply described as “rich coffee buttercream”. It had a milk chocolate coating with dark chocolate stripes for contrast.

The texture of the golden brown buttercream center was lovely – solid yet lightly fluffy. Its flavor started off strong with mocha coffee notes, lightly bitter but overall sweet, and the milk chocolate added a great caramel finish. OM.

And last for today, the Dark Chocolate Chip Truffle, “rich chocolate buttercream with chocolate chips”. This buttercream held its shape as I bit into the treat but then melted away on the tongue.

I didn’t notice any extra chocolate chips in that ganache; the texture was perfectly smooth.

It had an incredibly intense semisweet chocolate flavor which was redoubled by the dark chocolate shell. The chocolate didn’t have a terribly nuanced flavor profile, but it was deep and it was good. An OM.

Back on Wednesday and Friday with more See’s!

Category: chocolate, coffee, nuts, O, OM, review, See's, white chocolate | Comments Off

Chocolati Truffles

April 26th, 2013 by Rosa

While I was in Seattle last week for a conference, I stayed an extra day to do some sightseeing, which included a whirl around their awesome Central Library. It had crazy cool architecture, a spiral stacks, and, most importantly for this blog, a Chocolati stand.

The lady running the Chocolati stand was the nicest chocolate seller I’ve ever met. A companion and myself each got a free truffle because it was our first time visiting, and then when I couldn’t decide between which of two truffles that I wanted to buy, she gave me both for the price of one. Thanks, awesome Chocolati lady!

I ended up buying a Cinnamon Almond Aztec, a Pistachio Curry Truffle, and what I think was a Salted Vanilla truffle (my memory may be wrong, and it’s not listed on the website). They were pretty reasonably priced at $1.45 each, and I got three for the price of two.

Cinnamon Almond Aztec was described on the website as, “Milk chocolate couverture and semisweet ganache with almonds, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.” There were visible bits of almonds in the sparkling ganache – the sugar crystals mixed in were visibly light-catching.

It tasted strongly of cinnamon and sugar with a subtly acrid bite to the end. The ganache left a slight grit as it melted away. That combined with the powerful cinnamon flavor and astringency of the finish spoke to just how much cinnamon spice went into this truffle.

While I appreciated the cinnamon flavor, I found the truffle to be too sweet. I also didn’t get any nutty flavors from the almond bits, likely because the cinnamon sweetness was so strong. An O.

Pistachio Curry was “Thai curry mixed with a blend of our 71% dark chocolate and 50% bittersweet chocolate sprinkled with fresh pistachio nuts.” It was definitely a uniquely flavored treat.

The curry spices were right out of Thai takeout. They started off savory and then sweetened as the chocolate asserted itself, and the whole thing finished with just a hint of heat to the end.

Again, I felt this truffle to be too sweet for my taste, and I didn’t taste any nuttiness from the pistachio bits. An A for creativity, but an O for being too sweet.

Finally, what I think was Salted Vanilla was a dark chocolate ganache with a dark chocolate shell and a sprinkle of salt crystals on top. The ganache here was stiff with a fine grain to its texture.

It tasted lightly sweet with a great dry duskiness. The cocoa flavor was intense and was set off with a flash of salt.

This was my favorite of the bunch for its potent chocolate flavor. It was high quality but honestly, a tad boring, so an O.

I wonder if I just chose poorly from the Chocolati assortment? I tried a bite of their chocolate-covered sea salt caramel on site, and that was delicious and well-balanced. Their overall sweeter truffles weren’t as much to my liking. Clearly the best solution is to take another trip to Seattle and eat more truffles.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, review | 2 Comments »

Guest post: Viba Mandel-nougat

April 24th, 2013 by Neil

Here’s another guest review from ex-pat Neil while I try to catch up from being out of town for most of last week. ~Rosa

Recent trips to Germany & Austria have refilled the never-empty pantry here. I’ve tried the Viba Mandel-nougat which came from one of those countries (sorry, I should take better notes while shopping!)

I was expecting a crunchy single bar from this. Instead, I got 3 mini-logs, each about the size of my thumb, with a flattened, patterened underbelly of the chocolate base. They looked dried out; this was fortunately not the case.

The texture is much softer than I expected. I think if I’d squished and poked any of the pieces before biting in, that would’ve been obvious. The majority of each piece seems to just be slightly hardened nut butter. While the label tells me that it’s almond-based, it never tasted overwhelmingly of almonds, more like halfway between cashews and peanuts.

This was a bit of a disappointment. There’s not a ton of flavor overall, and very little sweetness. It’s almost hard to know that the chocolate is there, except that said base is a bit more rigid than the nut portion. In each piece, I discovered some slightly crunchy bits that were either nuts or crystallized sugar, but more likely the latter.

The Viba Mandel-nougat was not my best find, but I’m sure it was inexpensive, probably less than a Euro or two. I wouldn’t buy it again. If somebody had just handed it to me and not told me it was almond, I would’ve been a bit happier. It wasn’t terrible, though, so I’ll give it a nice basic O.

Category: chocolate, European, guest post, nougat, nuts, O, review | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Mango Bites

April 19th, 2013 by Rosa

To be honest, these Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Mango Bites didn’t sound that tasty to me, but my local Trader Joe’s was promoting them all over the store, so I picked up a bag.

Why not? I like chocolate-covered coconut, and I like mangos. Mangos and chocolate and coconut all together could be good?

The resealable stand-up bag described them as “soft, chewy coconut candy bites with a tangy mango addition, covered in rich, dark chocolate.” The bag smelled incredibly fruity and sweet, almost cloyingly so.

The candy bites were 1.5 inches by 1 inch rectangles that were just over half an inch high. The center was a yellow-hued smoosh of moist, shredded coconut.

The dark chocolate shell was mild with a hint of sweetness and a dryly fruity, bittersweet finish. While it tasted great by itself, it was totally overwhelmed by the coconut mango center. Also, it melted into my fingers as I held it, which was a little annoyingly messy.

The center had the squeaky texture of shredded coconut and the piquant tartness of dried mango. The mango flavor was bright and sweet and dominated the treat; I didn’t get any coconut flavor notes, just texture.

While I liked the chocolate in isolation, and I liked the flavor of the mango, the whole thing just didn’t come together for me. I think it was the texture of coconut without any coconut flavor that threw me off. I have no desire to finish the rest of the bag, so an O.

Category: chocolate, coconut, O, review, Trader Joe's | 1 Comment »

Walker’s Assorted Toffee

April 15th, 2013 by Rosa

I love Walker’s toffees, so when my friends Emma and Jason asked me if I wanted any candies from England, I asked for some Walker’s. They brought me this box of Assorted Toffees (and also a box of After Eight thins).

The Assorted Toffees were English cream toffee, plain chocolate, milk chocolate, banana, and eclair. Eclair was in the last set of Walker’s Toffees that I reviewed four years ago, but the rest was new.

English cream toffee had a smooth and creamy melt and a super sticky chew. The flavor was incredibly buttery and sweet with rich, fresh dairy notes.

Plain chocolate had a thin dark chocolate shell. That chocolate’s flavor was on the bitter side of bittersweet, but as I chewed and chewed and chewed the caramel, the buttery golden sweet flavor of the toffee took over.

Milk chocolate was just like the plain chocolate, only with a thin milk chocolate shell rather than dark chocolate. It had just a slight, mild chocolate flavor.

I was dubious about eating the banana toffee since I hate artificial banana flavor. Fortunately, the banana flavor of this toffee, which came from a flavored cream center, was a pretty accurate representation of a real banana, so I could tolerate these (though they weren’t my favorite).

Finally, the eclair toffee was hiding a bit of (probably fake) chocolate in the center. The chocolate was dusky and sweet, with a bittersweet chocolatesque Tootsie Roll finish that toned down the buttery flavor of the toffee.

I think these still pale in comparison to the darker burnt flavors of Walker’s treacle toffee that I love so much. Still, I enjoyed chewing through their sweet buttery flavors. An O for the banana, and an OM for the rest.

Category: caramel, chocolate, European, O, OM, review | 1 Comment »