Archive for the 'European' Category

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 »

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 | No Comments »

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 »

After Eight Mint Chocolate Thins

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 | 2 Comments »

Guest post: Sier Ijscups Chocolade

March 18th, 2013 by Neil

Ex-pat in the Netherlands Knile is back for the day! ~Rosa

It’s been far too long since I’ve been in this space. It’s not for lack of material, believe me. My candy-purchasing has sloped off a bit as I stare at my candy shelf’s growing pile including once-tasty-looking items that are now past their best-by dates. (Sorry, English candy bars!)

So perhaps, while I enter the phase of life known as “spring cleaning“, I will put some reviews on this site as I send some shirts to the thrift shop and a few months’ worth of paper recycling out to the curb.

Today, I found myself staring at my 24-pack of Sier Ijscups Chocolade. I bought these on a goofy evening of impulse purchases at a Coop supermarket here in the Netherlands.

Ijs can mean ice but it can also mean ice cream, so I wasn’t sure what the deal was with these. They looked like miniature Reese’s Mini peanut butter cups with their scalloped brown wrappers.

I cut one open for photographing purchases, before I even ate any, and was a bit surprised to see the lack of anything resembling a peanut butter filling inside. This should not have been surprising, as the chocolate/peanut butter combination is not as popular anywhere as in North America.

The cups are, perhaps unsurprisingly given the source and price, rather fake-seeming. Sure, they’re creamy and a bit nutty (though that might just be priming from the visual similarity to the Reese’s cups!). The ingredients list tells me the first ingredient component is a mass of “partially hydrogenated vegetable fats”, which I’m pretty sure not healthy for me. Because there’s no filling, and thus no shell, the consistency ends up being uniform: it’s tender, becoming a pleasant squishiness very quickly.

I’m even more sure that these fats are the driving force behind the flavor. Overall, it’s a very standard “cheap chocolate” flavor. The texture, though, wins me over into guilty pleasure territory. An OM.

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

Perugina’s Baci White

January 28th, 2013 by Rosa

Baci’s big push at Sweets and Snacks 2012 was to promote their new Bacis Whites, which is how I got these free samples. They were basically a white chocolate-covered version of their regular Bacis, which I’ve previously reviewed.

Regular Baci come wrapped in thick white foil with blue stars, while the Baci White were wrapped in thick blue foil with white stars. A bit counterintuitive that the Baci White came in blue, but oh well.

The Baci White was a dome of gianduja paste, which was made of a dry chocolate ganache and chopped hazelnuts. The whole thing was topped with a whole roasted hazelnut and then covered in a creamy white chocolate.

That white chocolate made for a sweeter Baci experience, as it tasted of frosting with vanilla undertones. It was definitely a high quality white chocolate, with a nicely round flavor, but I found it to be too sweet.

The treat was sweet and crunchy and nutty. I loved the roasted nutty experience, but I found that I preferred the regular Baci, which were less sweet and more chocolatey than the White version. An O.

Category: chocolate, European, nuts, O, Perugina, review, white chocolate | No Comments »

Galaxy Cookie Crumble and Galaxy Orange & Shortcake

January 21st, 2013 by Rosa

Galaxy chocolate is the UK equivalent of Dove chocolates. I picked up a couple of imported cookie-themed Galaxy bars at my last trip to Cost Plus World Market, the Cookie Crumble and the Orange and Shortcake.

Both bars were wavily segmented into 6 imprinted rectangles that broke easily around their bounds. They had a thickly creamy milk chocolate base that was sweet with just a bit of a throat-burning sour tinge at the finish.

Cookie Crumble had gritty nuggets of chocolate cookie that added a slight gritty crunch. The cookie bits were basically black in color, like Oreos, and they basically tasted like the cookie parts of Oreos.

It reminded me of a slightly nicer version of Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Milk Chocolate bar, as the Galaxy chocolate base had a much more luxurious mouthfeel and was just higher quality in general. Still, it also gets an O because I found it to be a tad too sweet in the finish.

Orange and Shortcake had larger cookie bits of pale shortbread that visually stood out against the milky brown chocolate. They added a bit of crunch and grit, but not much flavor, as I mostly tasted the orange flavor in the chocolate.

There were bits of candied orange rind in the bar, which brought a nicely sweet, brightly fruit burst of flavor to the chocolate. They were my favorite part of the bar – an unusual and tasty twist that elevated it to an OM.

Category: chocolate, cookie, Dove, European, Mars, O, OM, review | No Comments »

Ritter Sport – Yogurt

December 21st, 2012 by Rosa

The Ritter Sport Yogurt is an elusive chocolate bar. Its more common brethren, like Milk Chocolate with Cornflakes or Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts, are easily found in many major grocery stores in the U.S., but I’ve only ever seen the Yogurt in the wild in specialty fine food stores, random NYC bodegas, or Europe.

According to Ritter’s U.S. importer, the Yogurt is one of the worst sellers in the U.S. A travesty!

People, it is time to make the Ritter Sport Yogurt happen. Fro-yo shops pepper America’s strip malls, tangy plain yogurt from Greece and Iceland is all the rage with the probiotic set, and Ben and Jerry’s has recently combined both trends in their new Greek frozen yogurt line.

The stage has been set: America is ready to take their chocolate with some tang.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Ritter Sport brand, their bars are notable for their signature square shape. Fun fact: the square design came about because regular rectangular chocolate bars fell out of sporty gents’ sport coat pockets, so Ritter created a fatter square bar that would stay put during sporty occasions. And thus, the Ritter Sport was born!

Like all full-sized Ritter Sports, the Yogurt bar is a grid of 16 smaller conjoined squares. Breaking the bar across one of the columns reveals the “refreshing yogurt filling” promised by the wrapper. Its creamy whiteness stands out prettily against the light brown of the milk chocolate that sandwiches it.

The milk chocolate is throat-coatingly thick and lingers as it melts. It breaks softly instead of snapping and tastes of sweet cocoa with some caramel notes.

The yogurt filling’s texture is a little softer and squishier than that of the milk chocolate. It also has a thinner melt that disappears on the tongue. The filling tastes tart and tangy, like a really nice Greek yogurt.

The yogurt’s tartness is a great foil for the thick sweetness of the chocolate and helps lightens up the treat. Together, the taste is reminiscent of chocolate cheesecake. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it “refreshing”, but since when is chocolate supposed to be refreshing, anyway?

After a few too many squares, the milk chocolate’s sweetness becomes cloying and creates that lovely, sticky sugar-overload feeling in the back of the throat. I’d like it more if the chocolate’s sweetness was turned down a little, but I can’t complain too much. A whole bar contains 135% of the recommended daily dose of saturated fat, so anything that keeps me from scarfing down the whole thing in one sitting is a good thing.

As far as I know, this is the only yogurt chocolate bar on the U.S. market. I wish it was easier to find! If you’re lucky enough to come across one, I highly recommend that you buy it. And then mail it to me. A ZOMG!

Category: chocolate, European, review, Ritter Sport, ZOMG! | 5 Comments »

Perugina Chocolates – Cappuccino and White Chocolate

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 »

Perugina Chocolates – Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Dark Chocolate with Almonds, & Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts

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 »