August 9th, 2013 by Rosa
Escazú Chocolates is another chocolatier that’s practically in my backyard. How did I not know that there were so many local chocolate makers right here in the triangle?
I’d seen them before at Whole Foods and the coffee shop by my gym, but I’d never picked them up because I already have a sizeable chocolate backlog. Fortunately, a friend decided to thank me for some pet-sitting by giving me this Chipotle Chile & Vanilla bar.
The 74% cacao bar was segmented into 24 rectangles. The chocolate broke easily but without a true snap. Its melt was thick for a dark chocolate, velvety in texture but not tongue-coatingly thick like milk chocolate.
The dark chocolate had a fruity flavor with strong, plummy raisin and fig notes that lingered in the finish. The chipotle sting melted into a tingling burn that also lingered on the tongue and in the back of my throat.
I loved the complex intensity of this bar and am now eager to try the rest of their line. An OM.
Category: chocolate, OM, review |
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August 7th, 2013 by Rosa
Mars was working hard to promote their new M&M‘s Chocolate Bar at Sweets and Snacks this May. They kept a never-ending supply of them in the press room, and I snagged one for review (plus a few more as gifts; free candy is the only payment I get for all this blogging).
The bar is basically a milk chocolate bar embedded with mini M&M’s. M&M’s had tried selling something like it back in 2004 as the M-Azing bar, but it never really caught on then. I guess they think the market is ready now?
The chocolate was scored into 8 pieces and imprinted with the same image of Red being swallowed by melted chocolate that’s on the wrapper. I personally find it a bit morbid and not nearly as cute as M&M’s pretzel effort.
The milk chocolate of the bar tasted just like the milk chocolate center of a plain M&M: dusky and thick with a sour tinge that burned my throat. Plenty of mini M&M’s were distributed throughout the bar and revealed themselves by staying whole when the bar was broken apart.
The mini M&M’s crunchy little shells were a nice addition to break up the texture. I also appreciated the nice splash of color that they brought.
I enjoy milk chocolate M&M’s because you get the fun of melted or crunching away the chocolate shell, but I don’t find it to be high enough quality to prefer to eat it in giant chunks like in this bar. An O.
Category: chocolate, M&M's, Mars, O, review |
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August 5th, 2013 by Rosa
I got this Chuao Popcorn Pop mini chocolate bar as a free sample at their booth at Sweets and Snacks. I mentioned to the chef that I really liked their Firecracker Pod, and he handed me this, saying that I would love it.
He was right! It was described as being “inspired by that familiar flavor you love, with a surprising POP in milk chocolate.”
It started off with a salty hit of toasted popcorn flavor and crunch, then gave way to a popping sensation as the embedding popping candy exploded in my mouth, all while being set off by a smooth milk chocolate.
According to the ingredients list, the popcorn flavor came from corn chips and puffed amaranth. The corn chips gave the proper corny flavor, while the amaranth gave the textural feel of the fluffy white portions of popcorn.
It was fun how the crunchy grit of the “popcorn” seemed to turn into the popping sensations. It was a whimsical, well conceived, and well executed treat. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, OMG, review |
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July 31st, 2013 by Rosa
On Monday, I reviewed the new Klondike Caramel candy. Today, I’ll cover the other flavor that it comes in, Mint Chocolate Chip. Both flavors were free samples that I talked my way into at the Sweets and Snacks Expo back in May.
The Mint Chocolate Chip was described as “mint chocolate chip center covered in a dark chocolate flavored coating.” Like the Caramel, “chocolate flavored” coating means that the coating features palm kernel oil rather than cocoa butter, making it mockolate rather than real chocolate.
Semisweet chocolate, however, was next on the ingredient list after palm kernel oil. My guess is that the chocolate bits inside the mint chocolate chip filling are real. Honestly, why not just go real chocolate all the way?
The Mint Chocolate Chip Klondike candies didn’t travel as well as their caramel brethren. They got a bit squashed because their filling was softer.
That filling was an unnaturally bright shade of green – as you’d expect for Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream! The texture was like a fondant. It was very thick and solid, yet gave instantly when bitten into and melted in my mouth like buttercream frosting.
It was quite pepperminty and tasted so sweet that it burned my throat but also had a slightly bitter aftertaste. The chocolate bits inside the filling were few and far between (note how they’re missing in that cross section), and any true chocolate flavor they could have brought was pretty effectively masked by the intensity of the mint.
I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, but I didn’t particularly care for these. I wasn’t a fan of the texture of the filling, and I found the whole thing far too sweet. An –.
Category: --, chocolate, mint, mockolate, review |
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June 21st, 2013 by Rosa
I’ve never been a big fan of candy companies that refer to candy as a guilty pleasure. Why can’t it just be a pleasure, without all these extra hangups? As long as you’re not eating as much candy as I do, you’re probably fine.
Skinny Cow, with its ridiculous svelte cow logo, clearly markets itself to dieting women. This package of their caramel filled chocolates, which they were handing out as free samples at Sweets and Snacks, was clearly labeled as containing 130 calories.
It also claimed to be “velvety milk chocolate and luscious caramel”. All for 130 calories? I was skeptical…
The package contained 3 pretty chocolate squares, each lightly imprinted with the words Skinny Cow. The caramel inside was thin and runny with a slight grain to the texture.
The chocolate was grainy as well – definitely a few hours of conching shy of being velvety. It was extremely sweet, to the point of being throat burning.
The caramel was similarly sweet, but it also packed a heavy hit of saltiness, which was a nice surprise. It helped bring a little more interest to treat, and it provided the flavor of something besides just SWEET.
Still, I’d rather have one really high quality chocolate covered caramel than three of these guys. Quality over quantity! But if you prefer quantity, or if you absolutely need know the calorie count of what you’re eating (made easier when your food is factory made!), these wouldn’t be a terrible compromise. An O.
Category: caramel, chocolate, Nestle, O, review |
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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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