January 14th, 2013 by Rosa
Truffles by Coquette is a new online chocolate boutique/small business. They sent me a free box of their classic truffles for review.
The truffles came in a classy looking box with a gilded Coquette logo in the center. Inside were 12 spherical truffles, 4 each of the Colette, Annie, and Katherine.
Colette was described as “traditional French caramels with a touch of Fleur de sel de Guerande, enrobed in dark 55% cacao.” It was a snappy dark chocolate shell surrounding a limpid, liquid caramel.
The caramel was not sticky or chewy, but it also didn’t flow. Instead, it held its shape until it hit my tongue, after which it melted away in a sweetly golden pool of buttery deliciousness.
Each Colette was topped with a sprinkle of sea salt, which provided a nice flash of saltiness against the sweetness of the truffles. The dark chocolate was dusky with awesome cocoa depth and a lightly bittersweet finish that allowed the chocolate to linger.
Annie was “inspired by… the s’more. A gooey marshmallow filling is dipped in milk chocolate and topped with a miniature marshmallow.” I thought it was fun departure from the usual “classic” truffle mix.
The milk chocolate had a thick and creamy melt and tasted of sweet caramel with a dusky finish. While the mini marshmallow topper was textured, the marshmallow filling reminded me of marshmallow fluff: puffy and sweet with no chew.
Instead, it dissolved into the spot-on flavor of jet-puffed marshmallows. Overall, Annie was close to being too sweet for my taste, but I forgave it because it was so unique.
Katherine was “filled with creamy dark chocolate ganache and then dipped in E. Guittard couverture.” Its ganache was thick with no flow, a smooth and cool, almost fatty melt with just a bit of heaviness on my tongue.
The chocolate base that made this chocolate was great. It carried a bright, cocoa fruitiness with a lingering finish of bittersweet cocoa depth.
The Colette was my favorite of the bunch. I’m a sucker for salted caramel, so it gets an OMG. Annie gets an OM for taste and inventiveness, and Katherine gets an OM as well for being a well-executed classic.
Category: caramel, chocolate, marshmallow, OM, OMG, review |
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January 2nd, 2013 by Rosa
I’ve reviewed a few Sanders treats on this blog already, including some of their individually wrapped Favorites that Duke’s hospital sells in its gift shop. I snagged what I believe is the rest of the line at Sweets and Snacks back in May and tasted them last November (hence the slight bloom on the dark chocolates).
Maple Pecan Butter Cream was the only milk chocolate of the five. That milk chocolate covered a maple-flavored buttercream that was full of chopped pecans.
I found it to be absurdly overly sweet. The sweetness tasted of maple syrup and brown sugar, and holy cow was it overpowering.
A few notes of caramel and cocoa from the chocolate and nuttiness from the pecan bits valiantly struggled to be noticed. If you like pecan (pronounced pee-can, of course, not puh-kahn) pie, you’d like this.
For me, way too sweet. It made my teeth itch.
Dark Chocolate Coconut Supreme was Sanders’ version of a Mounds. It had a thick dark chocolate shell around a dry coconut center.
I appreciated the greater amount of dark chocolate here (oodles more compared to Mounds), as that chocolate had a nicely mild cocoa finish, but I thought the coconut center could’ve used more oomph. It lacked nuttiness and had only a light coconut flavor.
Caramel Butterscotch was a chewy, sticky caramel inside a snappy dark chocolate shell. The caramel was sweet and buttery, and though I didn’t get the candied flavor of butterscotch, exactly, it was a still a nice mix of chocolate and caramel.
Cookies and Cream Cruncher was a disk of “ivory confectioners coating” full of little beads of chocolate cookie. It was certainly crunchy, thanks to the high density of the Oreo-flavored cookies.
The fake white chocolate was throat-burningly sweet. It tasted super artificial, like canned vanilla frosting, and was made of palm kernel oil. Thumbs down.
Finally, Mint Royale was the most strikingly colored of the bunch: a bright pastel green with a dark chocolate cocoa center. It snapped when I bit into it but also had a smooth and creamy melt.
The whole thing reminded me of mint nonpareils but with more chocolate flavor. The mintiness was mild with cocoa undertones – too mild, I thought. For something called a Mint Royale, it really needed to go for broke on the mintiness.
The Caramel Butterscotch is the only one of these that I’d want to buy and eat again, so it gets an OM. The rest were generally too sweet and/or not flavorful enough, so they get Os.
Category: caramel, chocolate, cookie, mint, nuts, O, OM, review |
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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 |
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October 8th, 2012 by Rosa
These Hammond’s Caramels were free samples that arrived in the same box as the Piggy Backs that I previously reviewed. They came in vanilla and chocolate, and both 1.5-inch squares were wrapped in waxed paper for an old-fashioned look.
Vanilla had a soft and super super sticky chew, like an extra sticky Starburst. The wax paper that it came wrapped in was the only thing that it didn’t stick to.
It had a lightly perfumed floral sweetness that was round and mellow, similar to that of powdered sugar. I was a little disappointed – I like my caramels dark and scorchy and complex, while here it was mild and simply sweet.
Chocolate’s chew was a stiffer than that of the vanilla, but it was similarly sticky and softened as I chewed it. Its flavor reminded me of a super intense, less artificially sweet Tootsie Roll.
The chocolate caramel’s cocoa flavor had surprising depth. Imagine a mug of hot cocoa distilled into a chewy caramel – it had the same light fruity undertone that Swiss Miss does.
I liked the deep cocoa flavor of the chocolate caramel, but I felt that both the chocolate and the vanilla lacked the burnt sugar complexity that I look for in caramels. These guys played it too safe, so they get Os.
Category: caramel, chocolate, Hammond's Candies, O, review |
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September 28th, 2012 by Rosa
A little while ago, I was delighted when Hammond’s Candies offered to send me some free samples from their catalog. I was even more delighted to get some caramels and these Piggy Backs in the mail a week or so later.
The Piggy Backs were like giant, generously-sized turtles weighing in at 2.2 oz. Each was about half an inch thick and nearly the size of my palm. They were individually wrapped and sat in fluted paper cups.
My dark chocolate version was almond and caramel, while the milk chocolate version was pecan and caramel, but the dark also comes in pecan and the milk comes in almond.
The dark chocolate almond and caramel Piggy Back was lovely! The almonds brought a great roasted nuttiness that was strong enough to stand up to the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate. They added a great textural crunch and just a slight tinge of bitterness to balance all the sugar.
The generous layer of caramel was sticky and chewy and sweet, while the dark chocolate was on the sweet side for dark chocolate, with a smooth melt and a fruity, dusky finish. An OMG for an awesome mix of flavors and textures.
The milk chocolate pecan and caramel Piggy Back was more mild all around. Pecans are a more mild nut, and here they brought a softer crunch and a fattier nutty feel.
The lighter nut let the sweetness of the caramel come through more, and the milk chocolate had a nice caramel sweetness to it as well. I really liked this, but I liked the dark chocolate almond more, so an OM.
Category: caramel, chocolate, Hammond's Candies, nuts, OM, OMG, review |
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September 21st, 2012 by Rosa
I found these Jer’s Peanut Butter Bars on my last trip to Cost Plus World Market (thanks for the birthday coupon!). I nearly missed them – they were shelved a ways away from most of the store’s other candies – and I’m glad that I saw them and picked up a box.
I chose the Cara Mella flavor because it was the most tempting: “All natural Valencia peanut butter center and creamy caramel covered in dark chocolate.” Yes please!
The box contained two decent-sized, individually wrapped bars. Mine got a little squashed – a few dribbles of caramel peeked through the cracked dark chocolate shell. That dark chocolate had a wonderfully dusky and deep cocoa flavor with a lightly sweet finish.
The peanut butter center was topped with a layer of caramel, and the two combined in a salty-sweet dream. The caramel was sweet with a slight burnt sugar tinge and a salty hit to the finish. It was sticky and chewy and got stuck in my teeth a little.
The peanut butter center had bits of rice crisps that added a great crunch. That, along with some tiny bits of peanuts, provided a nice textural contrast to the chewy caramel and melting chocolate.
Finally, the peanut butter flavor itself was great. Its roasted nuttiness was strong enough to stand up to the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel.
I had blanched a bit at the $2.99 price tag, but I shouldn’t have, as it works out to $1.50 for each 1.5 oz bar. A little pricier than Snickers bars, sure, but definitely a good buy for the quality that you get. An OMG for an addictive mix of textures of flavors.
Category: caramel, chocolate, OMG, peanut butter, review |
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September 17th, 2012 by Rosa
Benita’s Peanut Brittle (warning: website annoyingly plays music upon opening) had their big debut at Sweets and Snacks this year, where they snagged a primo spot in Innovation Alley. My box was a free sample from the Expo.
Benita’s is still a small company, so their brittle was all handmade. The packaging was wonderfully thoughtful. The gold, beribboned box contained a plastic bag of brittle and a golden twist tie for resealing the bag once you opened it.
It was a softer brittle than others – some bits of it shattered as normal brittle does, but most of it was chewy. The mix of cracking and chewy brittle plus peanuts made for an interesting texture.
The flavors were great as well. The brittle portion tasted of gold caramel and butterscotch with a great, buttery sweetness to the finish, while the peanuts were flavorful and roasty.
Between the chewiness and the peanuts + caramel flavors, it reminded me of a Snickers bar without the chocolate. I thought it was great and especially liked the buttery complexity of the treat. An OM.
Category: caramel, nuts, OM, review, toffee |
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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 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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August 13th, 2012 by Rosa
One of my favorite Halloween candies are Tootsie’s Caramel Apple pops, so I gladly accepted the chance to review free samples of Shurms Caramel Apple Soft Candy Chews. They were definitely unlike anything I’ve ever had before.
The individually wrapped chews were gorgeous to behold, a thick, luscious looking layer of caramel atop a glowing green translucent square of apple chew. The apple chew sort of looked like Jell-o, but the texture was not at all gelatin-like.
Instead, it was like a fruit pate crossed with a Starburst. It was sticky, but it separated easily when I bit into it. The softness and squishiness of fruit pate was there, but fruit pate’s notable graininess was missing (these were slippery smooth).
It tasted of sweet, candied green apple, like an apple Jolly Rancher or the solid apple part of the Tootsie Caramel Apple pops.
The sweet brightness of the apple stood out nicely against the sticky caramel, which was sweet and buttery with a slightly sour tinge to the finish. I could feel a light graininess when I flattened the caramel against my tongue, but it otherwise was smoothly chewy.
The different kinds of chewiness – the caramel stickiness plus the fruit pate/Starburst hybrid apple portion – was a new sensation that I’ve never before experienced.
I’d give these an O – I enjoyed them enough that I’d grab a few out of a bulk bin, if they were sold that way. Alas, they’re currently not available in stores outside of Michigan, but you can order them online at their website.
Category: caramel, chewy, O, review |
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