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.
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 |
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June 16th, 2013 by Rosa
I got this Russell Stover Caramel Apple with Peanuts as a free sample at the Russell Stover booth at Sweets and Snacks. There was also a version without nuts; this is just the one that was handed to me by the nice booth representatives.
The wrapper described this as “naturally apple flavored caramel, peanuts, and milk chocolate”. It was an apple shaped chocolate shell filled with caramel and coated with chopped peanuts.
The caramel was soft and sticky, with a substantially chewy pull. It tasted sweet with a subtle hint of green apple tartness, a flavor that was reminiscent of Tootsie’s Caramel Apple Pops.
The milk chocolate was on the sweet side, while the crunchy peanut bits brought a strong nuttiness. When all the ingredients were together, the apple undertones got a bit lost, though the mix of chocolate, caramel, and peanuts was pretty good in and of itself.
Overall, I found this to be a creative treat that was tasty and made me nostalgic for fall. To be fair, I have an inordinate love for caramel apples, so this especially suited my tastes.
My one nitpick is that not all of the chopped peanut bits were anchored to the chocolate, which made this a messy treat if you weren’t careful. An OM.
Category: caramel, chocolate, nuts, OM, review, Russell Stover |
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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 |
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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 |
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June 7th, 2013 by Rosa
Today is the 4th of 4 new Ritter Sports that I got as free samples from Euro-American Brands at Sweets and Snacks. The Coconut was described on the wrapper as “with tropical coconut flakes in a coconut and milk filling.”
This was a standard 16-squared filled Ritter – a milk chocolate shell with a textured white coconut filling. The milk chocolate was the usual Ritter fare, sweet with dusky caramel notes, softly pliable, and thickly melting.
The coconut flakes were tiny and lightly crunchy. They added a great grit and a sweetly nutty coconut flavor with a floral undertone. The rest of the filling was sweet with the dairy notes of a fresh buttercream.
I found this Ritter to be delicious. It was, however, quite rich, so that a square or two was enough to satisfy. An OM.
I really enjoyed the Ritter Sports that I nabbed at the Expo, and I can’t wait to see them on the shelves here in the U.S. Especially the Cocoa Mousse one!
Category: chocolate, coconut, European, OM, review, Ritter Sport |
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June 5th, 2013 by Rosa
Here’s the 3rd of 4 new Ritter Sport samples from Euro-American Brands that I got at Sweets and Snacks. Monday’s Cocoa Mousse broke the mold by featuring 9 squares instead of 16. This Fine Extra Dark Chocolate 73% does the same…
but in the opposite direction. It features a whopping 36 itty-bitty squares, each stamped with a miniaturized version of the Ritter Sport logo on its teeny top. The square mountains were solid chocolate of the 73% cacao variety.
The cubes were dense and thick to bite into. The dark chocolate tasted dense as well. I found it earthy and even a bit muddy with a deep Dutched cocoa flavor.
I found this to be a fun departure from the usual Ritter Sports, but to be honest, I mostly love Ritter Sports for their delicious fillings. Ritter’s dark chocolate was nice enough, but it wasn’t as special as other brands of dark chocolate that have more flavor complexity. An OM.
Category: chocolate, European, OM, review, Ritter Sport |
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June 3rd, 2013 by Rosa
Last Friday, I reviewed the Limited Edition Ritter Sport Raspberry and Cranberry Yogurt, one of the 4 Ritter Sport samples that I got from Euro-American Brands at Sweets and Snacks. This week, I’ll cover the other three, for a delicious Ritter Sporty week!
First up, the Milk Chocolate with Cocoa Mousse, a new Ritter bar that I’m hoping will work its way into permanent U.S. distribution. It was revolutionary because, unlike the regular 16 square Ritter, it took the same total area and subdivided it into 9 larger squares.
That change was made to leave the cocoa mousse, or “fine whipped cocoa creme”, more room to be fluffy. As you can see, the inside of each of 9 squares was filled with a dark chocolate filling. It made for a lovely visual contrast against the lighter brown of the milk chocolate shell.
The cocoa mousse filling wasn’t noticeably fluffy in the same way that real mousse is, but it was definitely not solid. Instead, it was something in between the two – more airy than solid chocolate but firmer than real mousse.
The milk chocolate shell was thick and creamy with a caramelly sweetness. The cocoa mousse in the center had an incredibly deep cocoa intensity. It tasted fudgey with a bittersweet edge.
I absolutely adored the incredible chocolate intensity of this bar. It’s a shame that it had 9 squares instead of 16, as mine is now nearly half gone. A ZOMG!
Category: chocolate, European, review, Ritter Sport, ZOMG! |
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May 31st, 2013 by Rosa
Today is my first review of a product that I picked up at Sweets and Snacks. I’ve decided to start with the product I was most excited about trying: Ritter Sport‘s Raspberry and Cranberry Yogurt.
Why was I so excited about this particular bar? Let me refer you to my ode to the Ritter Sport Yogurt, which is my favorite Ritter and one of my favorite chocolate bars.
Raspberry and Cranberry in addition to yogurt sounded fun! Plus it was a Limited Edition bar, which dials up the specialness feeling, and it was a bar that I’ve never seen in the wild.
This was yet another visually pleasing bar from Ritter, with a speckled pink filling standing in bright contrast to the milk chocolate shell. My bar was quite pliable and bent quite a ways before it broke along its segments – probably due to a combination of the warm weather and softish-to-start milk chocolate.
The fruity filling was intensely flavored. Those speckles were actually crunchy little bits of freeze-dried berry, and biting into them yielded a flash of bright and tart berry flavor.
The fruit was real! After one square of the bar disappeared down my throat, a couple of raspberry seeds were left behind.
The chocolate here served as a sweet and dusky foil to the filling. It also provided a luxuriously thick melt that surrounded the creamy filling.
This bar was good. Not quite good enough to unseat the plain yogurt Ritter as my favorite, but still pretty darn good with its intense fruity tartness. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, European, limited edition, OMG, review, Ritter Sport, yogurt |
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May 17th, 2013 by Rosa
On Wednesday, I covered Madécasse Chocolate‘s Pink Pepper & Citrus bar. They make bean-to-bar chocolate in Madagascar, which, in addition to paying their cocoa farmers a fair price, generates 4 times the impact of Fair Trade.
Today, I’m writing up their Sea Salt & Nibs bar, which brags that it was Best in Show in the Paris Salon du Chocolat. As far as I’m concerned, it was a well-deserved award.
The Sea Salt & Nibs was “63% cocoa, crunchy, & a touch of salt”, with 2/4 dots on Madécasse Chocolate’s intensity scale. It was formed in the same mold as the Pink Pepper & Citrus bar, except its back was covered in tiny bits of cacao nib.
The chocolate had a softish bite with a light crunch from the nibs. They added a great cocoa depth without any of the bitter astringency that sometimes comes with cacao nibs.
The chocolate was intensely flavored. It started off mellow with a caramel cocoa depth, then took on powerfully bright citrus and cherry notes.
Every once in a while, I caught a crunchy crystal of sea salt. The salt brought a brief flash of saltiness while highlighting the fruity notes in the chocolate.
This was another tremendous bar from Madécasse. As corny as it sounds, every bite took me on a flavor adventure.
I am 100% sold on this brand and will be buying more bars the next time I’m at Whole Foods. A ZOMG!
Category: chocolate, fair trade, review, ZOMG! |
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May 15th, 2013 by Rosa
Madécasse Chocolate is a new company to me. They’re “bean-to-bar in Madagascar” and, though they’re not Fair Trade certified (probably due to the expense), they claim that their business practices generate 4 times the impact of fair trade cocoa.
Pink Pepper & Citrus was 63% cocoa, pink pepper, & combava fruit. Combava fruit sounds super exotic, but I think it’s just another name for Kaffir Lime (still exotic, but slightly more familiar sounding).
The bar was prettily molded to highlight that it was made in Madagascar. It broke easily along its scores, but its texture was soft, with a matte mouthfeel.
This bar was astoundingly complex. I didn’t have to close my eyes or try too hard to really focus on the flavors; they came out swinging.
It started off with a deep earthiness, then yielded to a bright, citrusy fruitiness with an undertone of pepper’s just-shy-of-acrid essence (but not its heat). All this for only 2/4 dots of intensity on Madécasse Chocolate’s scale?
I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate in my day, and it’s rare to find bars that pack so much flavor complexity and just so much flavor, period. A ZOMG!
Stay tuned til Friday, when I cover Madécasse Chcoolate’s “Best in Show” winning Sea Sat & Nibs bar!
Category: chocolate, fair trade, review, ZOMG! |
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