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 on Hello Panda – Strawberry and Double Choco
January 13th, 2014 by Rosa
My boyfriend’s gym is located right next door to A Southern Season, a gourmet food mecca that’s proven to be a great candy source. It’s also quite the temptation whenever I drop-in for a workout, as the gym exit is right by the chocolate truffles.
That’s how I wound up with a couple of impulse buys: a Tosca truffle from 20 Degrees Chocolates (left), and a Pure Passion (passionfruit) truffle from Red Light Chocolates (right). I chose them from A Southern Season’s multitude of chocolates because they sounded tasty and looked pretty.
Yelp told me that 20 Degrees’s Tosca truffle was pomegranate flavored. Before I found that out, I’d assumed I’d misremembered which truffle was which, as the Tosca was so brightly flavored and the Pure Passion so dull that I thought each had to be the other.
The Tosca had a soft, almost fluffy ganache with a cool, fatty melt. It tasted sweet and fruity with tangy citrus notes that brought a bright finish, while the dark chocolate was dusky with its cocoa flavors. An OM for its boldness.
As previously alluded to, I was disappointed that the Passionfruit from Red Light Chocolate did not have bright, fruity flavors. Instead, its mostly tasted of deep cocoa with just a hint of sweetness.
If I squinted my tastebuds, maybe I could find a barely perceptible fruity note in there, but I can’t be sure that it wasn’t due to the power of suggestion. It may have been that my truffle was no longer fresh and all the original flavor had faded by the time I got it.
The rich, stiff ganache melted smoothly into a nice finish. The chocolate was nice – I just wanted more passionfruit. An O.
Category: chocolate, O, OM, review |
Comments Off on Truffles from Southern Season
January 10th, 2014 by Rosa
I got these two Chuao Chocopods, Maple Bacon and Orange-A-Go-Go at last year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo from Chef Michael himself, along with a Popcorn Pop ChocoPod that I previously reviewed.
Orange-A-Go-Go was described as “candied orange harmoniz[ing] with the essence of bergamot orange in dark chocolate”. The individually wrapped pod had a dry sharp snap that reviewed a few little bits of candied orange peel.
Those bits of peel added just a bit of texture and chew. The chocolate itself had a strong and bright orange oil flavor, making the chocolate bar a sweet mix of citrus zestiness and dark chocolate. An OM.
Maple Bacon was “crisp bacon, delicate maple sweetness and bonfire smoked sea salt, bathed in milk chocolate”. It, too, had a sharp snap and little exposed bits of real, meaty bacon.
The chocolate was smoky, salty, and sweet, with brown sugar notes. The bacon bits added crunch and some subtly meaty undertones to the mild cocoa.
I don’t think I would have immediately identified the bacon-ness as meat. Had I not been told there was bacon in this bar, I likely would have just chalked it up to smokiness.
This was a nice mix of salty and sweet, though I think it’s definitely an acquired taste. Not everyone likes their chocolate with a does of smoky meat! An O.
Category: chocolate, O, OM, review |
Comments Off on Chuao Chocopods: Maple Bacon and Orange-A-Go-Go
January 6th, 2014 by Rosa
Lotte’s Koala March are “chocolate crème filled cookies” that can be found in Asian grocery stores in America. I recently got a free box from the folks at MunchPak, along with Koala March competitors Hello Panda (which I will review later).
The pillow-shaped cookies are imprinted with adorable pictures of koalas in various garbs and doing different activities. The biscuit portion was dry, crunchy, and airy, with just the barest hint of sweetness.
Each hollow cookie had chocolate in its center. Though it was depicted as limpid on the package, the chocolate filling wasn’t quite so fluid in reality. Instead, it was softer than solid chocolate but not quite a ganache, and it tasted of lightly semisweet chocolate.
The mix of crunchy plain biscuit and semisweet soft chocolate was quite tasty, and it was fun to look at the different koalas and try to guess what they were doing. Where is the be-suited koala off to, I wonder? An OM.
Though I could do without the silly “trading cards” that were built into the packaging:
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, Lotte, OM, review |
Comments Off on Lotte Koala’s March Cookies
December 20th, 2013 by Rosa
I first tried Jer’s Peanut Butter Bars over a year ago when I bought and reviewed the Cara Mella version. I loved it so much that I kept my eyes peeled for additional flavors every time I visited Cost Plus World Market, but I wasn’t able to find them again until just a few weeks ago.
This time, I bought the Pretzo Change-o, which was described as “all natural premium peanut butter center mixed with sweet and salty pretzel bits covered in milk chocolate.” Each box contained two individually wrapped long, skinny, flat chocolate bars.
The peanut butter filling was dry and crumbling. It tasted quite salty and strongly nutty, like the center of a Reese’s peanut butter cup, only extra amped up and with higher quality ingredients.
Little pretzel bits were mixed into that filling that added some crunch and starch – and maybe even more saltiness? The milk chocolate coating added sweetness and some cocoa flavors that tried to balance out the peanut butter center.
I liked that it was like a flavorful, crunchy peanut butter cup in a different shape, but I found it too salty. I think a little more sweet chocolate to balance out the salty peanut butter would have helped. An O.
Category: chocolate, O, peanut butter, review |
Comments Off on Jer’s Gourmet Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars – Pretzo Change-o
December 16th, 2013 by Rosa
I bought this box of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Caramallows last week. I was super excited to think that I’d caught a new product that resembled my beloved See’s Scotchmallows, but it turns out that they were around last year as well.
The long, skinny box described them as “pillowy marshmallow bites with a layer of rich, silky caramel, enrobed in dark chocolate.” There were 10 Caramallows in the box all lined up in a row.
While most were rectangular with a vertical line across them, some were more irregularly shaped. Each had a bottom layer of caramel topped with a square of marshmallow and all covered in a dark chocolate shell.
The Caramallows were far softer than Scotchmallows and squishily yielded to my bite. The dark chocolate shell was quite nice, a high quality chocolate that was lightly sweet with a fruity finish.
The bottom layer of caramel was softy chewy and sticky. It tasted sweetly buttery rather than scorchy or burnt, and it had a mild butterscotchy flavor.
The marshmallow was squishy and foamy in texture. It had a sweetly mild flavor with a light vanilla airiness.
These were tasty enough, but they aren’t a suitable Scotchmallow replacement. The fact that they were so soft throughout made them seem insubstantial compared to Scotchmallows, and Scotchmallows have much more complexity of flavor. An OM.
Category: caramel, chocolate, marshmallow, OM, review, Trader Joe's |
5 Comments »
December 6th, 2013 by Rosa
North Carolina has a great chain of drive-thru restaurants, Cook-Out, that feature an elaborate variety of milkshakes. I like Heath bar bits in my Cook-Out milkshakes, so I jumped at the chance to buy these Heath Pieces when I saw them on the shelf.
Heath Pieces are another extension of the Hershey’s Pieces line. For a long time, it was just Reese’s Pieces, but they’ve since added other chocolate bar flavors that I’ve previously reviewed, including York Peppermint Patty Pieces and Almond Joy Pieces.
Heath bars are chocolate and toffee (previously reviewed here), and the Heath Pieces are “milk chocolate and toffee candy in a crunchy shell.” The conveniently resealable bag was full of spherical candies in a trio of fall colors – light brown, dark brown, and golden yellow.
Most of them were M&M shaped, but a few irregular Pieces slipped through the quality control check and came out with funky shells. Those shells were crunchy, as were the bits of toffee within.
The Heath Pieces were quite sweet, with caramel milk chocolate flavors and a scorchy, buttery undertone from the toffee. Some Pieces had larger toffee bits than others, so the chocolate-toffee balance varied from bite to bite. I preferred the toffee heavy bites.
I simultaneously found them too sweet and so sweet that they were a bit addictive and quite poppable. I may buy them again for ice cream mix-ins in the future, so an OM.
Category: chocolate, Hershey's, OM, review, toffee |
Comments Off on Heath Pieces
December 2nd, 2013 by Rosa
I love gingerbread and gingerbread cookies. When The Impulsive Buy posted photos of Gingerbread M&M’s and Gingerbread Twix, I went hunting for them both at my local Walmart. Alas, I was only able to find the M&M’s; no Twix.
Though the Gingerbread M&M’s were not explicitly packaged with a “limited edition” tag, Red is wearing a Santa hat, so I’m pretty sure they’re a seasonal thing. They came in classic Christmas colors – red and green – plus brown, for some reason.
The Gingerbread M&M’s were irregularly sized. Most were larger and more rotund than regular M&M’s, so they had a slightly higher chocolate to shell ratio.
I found these to be… interesting… tasting. They tasted of chocolate and spice, but not any identifiable gingerbread spice that I’m used to – no cinnamon or ginger or cloves.
Instead, they tasted kind of muddy and dirty. After I had a few and really let the flavor build, I realized that it tasted like dark molasses. Its muddiness lingered in the finish.
These weren’t horrible, but they fell far from the mark of what I think gingerbread chocolate should taste like. An O.
Category: chocolate, Christmas, limited edition, M&M's, Mars, O, review |
Comments Off on Gingerbread M&M’s
November 18th, 2013 by Rosa
I bought this Ritter Sport Winter Edition Caramelised Almond at Cost Plus World Market, along with last Friday’s Caramel-Orange. I was lucky to nab the last one of these that was on the shelf!
This solid milk chocolate bar was generously embedded with bits of caramelized almonds. Those nuts brought a slightly crystallized crunch to the texture of the snappy chocolate.
Those almonds had a toffee flavor from the caramelized sugar that they were toasted in and brought a strong roasted nuttiness. They paired well with the sweet milk chocolate, making this bar a crunchy, nutty, burnt-sugary, chocolately treat.
I think I would’ve liked this bar a bit more if it had been just a little less sweet. The milk chocolate had a hint of sour tinge and throat burn, but it was mild enough that I could get over it and focus on the great caramelized almond bits. An OM.
Category: chocolate, European, limited edition, nuts, OM, review, Ritter Sport |
Comments Off on Ritter Sport Winter Edition Caramelised Almond
November 15th, 2013 by Rosa
I’ve raved before about how Cost Plus World Market is a fantastic resource for new and unusual candies. I recently visited and found two Winter Edition Ritter Sports by accident – they were shelved far away from the regular Ritter Sports and other chocolates.
In fact, they weren’t really shelved at all; I found them in some sort of remaking displays purgatory.
I got the last Winter Edition Caramelised Almonds (which I’ll cover next week) and one of many Caramel-Orange that were left. Alas, they were out of Coconut Macaroon.
The Caramel-Orange had 16 squares of a milk chocolate sandwiching a golden brown caramel-orange ganache. The filling was thick and grainy and tasted of orange oil with a brown sugary finish. The citrus flavor was intensely fruity and orangey but without any tartness.
I found it a bit too sweet, and its finish took on a bit of a sour tinge. The milk chocolate was sweet as well, which only added to the sweetness of the overall treat.
I’m glad that I tried this, but the orange oil wasn’t enough to bring down the sweetness factor. An O.
Category: chocolate, European, limited edition, O, review, Ritter Sport |
Comments Off on Ritter Sport Winter Edition Caramel-Orange