Archive for the 'coffee' Category

Merci Chocolate Assortment

December 10th, 2008 by Rosa

Storck has had a pretty decent track record on my site. Their Toffifay got an OMG (and an awesomely addictive candy award from Candy Addict), and their Reisen got my highest honor of a ZOMG! So how would their Merci “finest assortment of European chocolates” fare?

I was impressed by the packaging of these chocolates. They’re pretty cheap, and they’re not lavishly packaged, but they still look nice. The outer box is kindly perforated to reveal two neat rows of Merci bars within.

The bars themselves are also not fancily wrapped – just cellophane with a light gold paper – but the half and half contrast and the color-coordinated bars and script identifying the bar flavors are a lovely touch that make the candies seem that much more upscale. I bought a box and split it up to put in goody bags for friends.

The bars come in seven different flavors. You can read the manufacturer’s description of each at Walgreen’s website. And/or you can read my review of six of those flavors (I somehow managed to not leave myself a milk chocolate one for tasting).

Hazelnut creme has a light hazelnut flavor that was unfortunately overpowered by a musty aftertaste. The aftertaste I blame on myself, however, as I tasted them a few months after their sell-by date. The praline tasted much like the hazelnut creme (mustiness and all), but with creamier chocolate.

Thankfully, the flavors of the remaining five were strong enough to resist being overtaken by any mustiness. Hazelnut-almond was chock full of tiny bits of almonds and hazelnuts that imparted not only a great nuttiness but also a nice crunch. The dark mousse was a dark layer of chocolate coating a softer, lighter truffled inside. The outer layer had a dry snap while the inner truffle had an almost greasy melt. Good cacao flavor throughout.

The dark cream was lighter in color than the dark mousse, and, as far as I could tell, was just a solid, mildly dark chocolate bar. There was nothing wrong with the dark cream, per se, but it lacked any interesting flavor profile.

Coffee and cream was my favorite of the bunch. It had a dry snap and melt with a strong coffee  flavor but no corresponding coffee bitterness. It tasted like fresh ground coffee smells. And it looked pretty, with a super dark top layer atop a white chocolate strip for the cream.

Overall, I give the assortment an OM. I highly recommend buying a box, giving away the less stellar ones, and hoarding the coffee and creams for yourself.

Category: chocolate, coffee, European, nuts, OM, review, Storck | 15 Comments »

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Assortment

October 16th, 2008 by Rosa

As I readied to write this post, I discovered that I’ve never formally reviewed any Ghirardelli chocolates on this blog, though I’ve eaten lots of Ghirardelli chocolates in my life. To remedy that, here’s a review of their Intense Dark Assortment.

First up, the Mint Bliss, a 60% cacao. It had a great snap and a creamy and smooth melt. There was just enough mint to make its presence known but not so much that it overwhelmed. And it was a nicely genuine mint flavor, not too toothpastey.  The mint did, however, mostly cover any nuance to the chocolate, but I was okay with that.

The other 60% in the collection was Espresso Escape, dark chocolate with finely ground espresso beans. So finely ground, in fact, that they didn’t affect the texture of the bar at all. I expected dark chocolate with a nice coffee finish. Instead, the chocolate was much more bitter than I thought it would be, and I loved it. It was like eating a dark chocolate espresso bean in smooth chocolate bar form.

Last but not least was a 72% pure chocolate billed as Twilight Delight. It had a dry but smooth melt without any creaminess with a lovely sweet finish.

Overall, I’d give this assortment an OMG, with the Mint and the Espresso as my favorites. Ghirardelli does a great job of making delicious chocolate at affordable prices. And Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco is fun if you ever have the chance to visit – their ice cream sundaes with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce are decadent and divine.

Category: chocolate, coffee, Ghirardelli, mint, OMG, review | 1 Comment »

Russian Candies IV

October 13th, 2008 by Rosa

More reviews from the ginormous box of Russian candy sent by my friend Leslie nearly a year ago. Don’t worry; the tasting was done back when they were more fresh out of the box (though I still have a few remnants of her box left).

Candy “Korovka”(Little Cow)

What I called “Cow Caramel,” this was caramel-flavored candy that tastes of mildly sweet caramel but has the texture of something completely different. It was grainy and broke up in my mouth, almost like a fudge, but not as creamy. The taste/texture disparity threw me a bit, and I found it overly sweet. An O.

“Ptich’ya slast” (Bird’s Enjoyment) and “Raiskaya Penka” (Heavenly Song)

This candy was WEIRD! It had a spongy marshmallow center surrounded by chocolate shell. The texture of marshmallow is terrible! The red version (left) had a weird aftertaste – definitely not of vanilla – that made me feel ill. Like nauseated ill. There were these weird sugar granules between chocolate and marshmallow that didn’t help matters. I don’t know if those were supposed to be there or if they were a product of the various temperature changes this candy went through.

The brown-checked version (right) was slightly better. The texture of the marshmallow was less spongy, but it still fell short of being pillowy. Thankfully, this had no weird aftertaste and no sugar grains, but I still didn’t enjoy it. Another O.

Mocha Hard Candies

These individually wrapped lovely hard candies had gorgeous light and dark brown swirls, like a Cream Saver. The coffee taste was strong and definitely present, but it wasn’t at all bitter. Also like a Cream Saver, the candy had a light, creamy finish. It cleaved cleanly, which of course meant I was chomping it to death. I’m not a big fan of coffee flavored candy, but my mother is, and she’d love this. An OM.

Category: chewy, chocolate, coffee, hard candy, marshmallow, O, OM, received as gift, review, Russian | 2 Comments »

Mars Revels

August 8th, 2008 by Rosa

I thought I’d follow up Wednesday’s review of Mars Planets with a review of Mars Revels, a similar UK offering. Revels are like the Planets in that they’re chocolate covered spheres (more or less) with various fillings. While Planets had nougat, fake malt, and caramel, the Revels are filled with caramel, raisin, orange, coffee, chocolate, and real malt. The malt ones are billed as Malteasers, so I knew I wouldn’t get duped with plain cookie again.

So how do the Revels fare in comparison to the Planets? As disappointing as I found the Planets, at least they weren’t as off-putting as Revels are. The Malteasers in the Revels are delightful – crisp, airy, and malty – but everything else gets a big thumbs down.

The chocolate Revels are fat little disks made of cloying chocolate. For some reason I can no longer remember, I also wrote “coal” down in my tasting notes. I don’t know why that’s there, but I can’t thing of any way the note “coal” can be taken positively.

The caramel Revels are worse than the caramel Planets. At least the latter had a passable texture. The caramel Revels are hard and nasty. It’s hard to tell, but in the photo below, it’s the third one from the left on the top row. See the total lack of caramel stickiness? Blech.

The orange and coffee ones were the same size and impossible to tell apart before tasting. They’re also hard to tell apart on sight from a cross section. I believe orange is the one in the bottom right corner, while coffee is immediately to its northwest. The inside of the orange Revel is unnaturally neon, while the coffee is strangely pale. The insides of both are powdery and grainy, and their tastes reflect their appearance. The orange is unnaturally artificial, and coffee is bland and fake.

Raisin, the smallest Revel, doesn’t taste of raisin at all. The poor quality chocolate overwhelms any fruitiness the raisin may have once had, and you can only tell it used to be a raisin based on its slightly pruny texture.

Chocablog gave Revels a positive review, though Dom is from the UK and grew up eating them. Terry from Chocolate Review writes about Revels latest Big Brother-related promotion to evict a flavor. I vote to keep the Malteaser, to replace the caramel with a chewy Planet, and overhaul the rest. A plus a blech face from me. Like the Planets, a neat concept that was totally botched in the execution.

PS: Happy 08/08/08! My people, apparently, find the date to be auspicious. I’ll be trying to track down a television to watch the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics tonight.

Category: --, caramel, chocolate, coffee, cookie, European, review | 1 Comment »

Borrachitos from Crown Candies

May 16th, 2008 by Rosa

I recently had the pleasure of getting a candy sneak preview. Crown Candies sent me two boxes of their Borrachitos (Spanish for a little drunk, and a traditional Mexican treat, apparently). I got one each of their two available flavors: Tequila and Licor de Cafe.

Crown Candies imports these handmade candies from Mexico. They call them “gourmet caramel candies,” but, as I explained to David of Crown Candies, I find that a bit of a misnomer, as they aren’t actually caramels. Instead, they’re a soft jelly-like candy flavored with caramel (or dulce du leche, if you prefer) and liquor. The Tequila flavor is laced with Tequila (duh), and the Licor de Cafe with coffee liqueur (less intuitive if you’re unfamiliar with romance languages).

The borrachitos come inside a resealable plastic tub with paper dividers separating them from each other. That tub is then shrink-wrapped and packaged inside a box. The texture of the candy is hard to describe. It’s super soft and immediately gives way when you bite into it, yet there’s a slight chew to it, The white center is creamy and also soft. They’re covered in granulated sugar, presumably to keep them from sticking to each other and to add an extra touch of sweetness.

The Licor de Cafe had a lovely strong coffee liqueur flavor to it in addition to its caramel notes. I noticed an initial, barely perceptible mustiness to it, probably from the paper liner, but it wasn’t present enough for friends to notice when I shared the borrachitos. My band director proclaimed them to be “very good,” and he’s got a doctorate in music education (sorry; inside YUB joke).

The Tequila borrachitos (left three in below photo) were lighter in color than the Licor de Cafe flavored ones (right three below) – more golden than brown – and their mustiness was a little stronger, probably because they had a double-layered paper liner. David from Crown Candies assures me that they’ve stopped using the double layer and that they’re looking into plastic separators, so that should resolve that issue. He was so confident that he sent me a third box of borrachitos with the new packaging to taste, but I haven’t had a chance to get them yet because I’ve been out of town and without access to my PO box.

The Tequila borrachitos were also strong! They immediately taste of caramel, and then whoosh comes the alcohol flavor. I’m not hardcore enough to enjoy the Tequila flavor, but I think tequila lovers/hard liquor connoisseurs would enjoy it. The Licor de Cafe flavor was just right for me, with it’s slight but innocuous alcohol tinge. An O for the tequila. The Licor de Cafe isn’t something I would reach for as a casual snack, but I would indulge in a piece now and then and would offer it to company. It gets an OM. I wonder if Crown Candies has considered a chocolate liqueur version.

Borrachitos are available online from the Crown Candies website, and they’ll also be at the All Candy Expo in Chicago that’s going on next week.

Category: caramel, coffee, Hispanic, jelly candy, O, OM, review | 2 Comments »

Russian Candies III

May 14th, 2008 by Rosa

For some reason, this post disappeared after I wrote it the first time. It was originally supposed to publish after Russian Candies I and II but instead published as blank nothingness (much to the disappointment of Leslie, who gave me the candy in the first place). Fortunately, I still have my tasting notes, so I can recreate the review.

Dove Bitter Chocolate with Lemon Peel and Coffee

I think Dove really needs to rethink the packaging on this one, as I noticed neither the lemon nor the coffee on the box. The coffee bean blends right into the chocolate, and the lemon looks like it’s just an extension of the yellow satin. What if some poor little Russian child or Russian tourist who can’t read Russian mistakenly bought this? He or she would be in for a flavor surprise.

All that being said, the flavor combination of chocolate, lemon, and coffee worked better than I thought it would. The bar had a crisp snap to it (and a slight bloom, but hey, it flew from Russia to Ohio to Texas to Connecticut. Stuff happens), probably because it’s quite dark, and little bits of grit from the coffee beans and dried lemon bits.

Upon first bite, the lemon flavor really smacks you in the taste buds. It tastes like super sweet candied lemon zest at first, then gives way to a coffee finish with a slight bitterness to it. It’s an interesting flavor combination that some of my friends loved, but it wasn’t quite for me. An OM.

Spartak Elite Dark Bitter Aerated Chocolate (72% cacao).

Leslie calls this one “exotic dictatorship chocolate” because it was made in Belarus. I really like aerated chocolate because it’s such a unique textural experience, and I was excited to try this one, as I’ve never had a dark aerated bar before.

The bar was quite glossy and dark. At first, it tasted quite dry, and unlike milk aerated chocolate, it doesn’t melt in your mouth very well. The chocolate itself was a bit on the sweet side for dark chocolate and had a slightly musty finish. Also an OM.

Category: aerated, chocolate, coffee, Dove, Mars, OM, received as gift, review, Russian | 1 Comment »

Nestle Coffee Crisp

January 9th, 2008 by Rosa

I thought I’d stumbled across a great candy find when I found this among other international bars at Coco Moka in Houston’s airport. Then I started seeing it everywhere and realized that it wasn’t so special after all. Apparently there was a successful petition to bring them to the US, though I can’t imagine why. I know there are plenty of better tasting UK candy bars out there.

The wrapper describes the Coffee Crisp as “wafers with coffee creme center”. Upon unwrapping the bar, I was inundated by a strong smell of chocolate, bitter coffee, and wafer. The bar itself is humongous. It’s big, thick, and dense.

For all its strong coffee smell, I couldn’t taste any coffee. I pretty much tasted just wafers and poor quality chocolate. There was also a faint lingering bitterness that was very slight. If you’re going to call your bar a Coffee Crisp, shouldn’t it taste like coffee? Instead, this is pretty much all crisp, and greasy, yicky crisp at that. A .

Cybele and Sera basically agreed with me. I know they didn’t sign that petition.

Category: --, coffee, cookie, European, Nestle, review | 7 Comments »

Asian candies I

August 14th, 2007 by Rosa

I am Asian, so you will be reading about a lot of Asian candy. Consider this part I of an open-ended series.

Lotte Cafe Coffee chewing gumfood-blog-pictures-016.jpg

This gum tasted like weak coffee with too much sugar and cream. The flavor didn’t last very long, and once it was gone, the gum took on an unpleasant taste and texture. I was not a fan, but my mother, who likes her coffee weak with lots of sugar and cream, loved it. Go figure.

Meiji Apollo strawberry/chocolate thingies BUY

food-blog-pictures-015.jpgThese little cones are adorable and delicious. It may be hard to tell from the picture, but they’re about the size of a peanut, sans shell. The pink top is strawberry (I think it may be flavored white chocolate), while the brown bottom is milk chocolate. The texture is wonderfully creamy, and the sweet strawberries ‘n’ cream smell is incredible. I’m a dark chocolate lover and usually find milk and white chocolate to be too sweet for my taste. These candies are on the sweet side, but I don’t find them offensive or cloying at all. Interestingly enough, they may be named after NASA’s Apollo command module.

Ramune Soda Fizzy Candy BUY

ramune-soda.jpgI polished these guys off at the restaurant, so I apologize for the poor photo from Amazon.com. The candies are snow white in color and look kind of like pills. Size-wise, they’re like fat Tart N Tinys. Taste-wise, they taste like Ramune soda, which can be found at any Asian grocery store. Ramune soda bottles have a very distinct shape. The bottles are stoppered with marbles. To open the soda, you break the seal and push the marble into the bottle’s uniquely shaped neck, where it rattles around while you drink the soda. The fizzy candy makers have tried to emulate the bottle’s shape with their plastic container, a design note that I appreciate.

Ramune soda (and, by correlation, ramune soda candy) is supposed to be lemonade flavored. I find the taste to be more of a generically crisp citrus flavor, which is quite enjoyable, if unremarkable. The fizzy part of the candies is far less noticeable than that of the Jones Soda candies, but the Ramunes taste much better and have no lingering aftertaste. The citrus flavor isn’t that strong, but it doesn’t have to compete with an overpoweringly sweet sugar flavor, so the citrus really comes through. The compressed sugar Ramunes are also slightly softer than the Jones candies, somewhere between a Sweet Tart and a Smartie.

I would definitely buy the Apollo candies again, and the Ramune candies are maybe worth another taste in the future. As for the coffee gum, I’ve given the rest of the pack to my mother. Good riddance.

Edit 09/05: The Apollo strawberry candies are worth a ZOMG!, the Ramune candies an OM, and the gum just an O.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, coffee, compressed sugar, gum, Meiji, O, OM, review, ZOMG! | Comments Off

Jocalat by Larabar

August 9th, 2007 by Rosa

According to Larabar’s website, these bars used to be called Maya bars. They’ve replaced the cocoa nibs in Maya bars with ground cocoa beans for a smoother texture and renamed the result. The Jocalat name sounds swankier (because we’re not sure how to pronounce it), and it lets Larabar use an accent breve (it’s amazing what I still remember from my high school French classes) to create a fancier looking logo.

food-blog-pictures-019.jpg

Jocalat bars (BUY) are made with organic and fair trade certified ingredients, usually some combination of organic dates, organic nuts, organic cocoa mass, organic cocoa powder, and organic flavoring. They’re gluten free, dairy free, soy free, kosher, vegan, and with no added sugar. Unlike regular Larabars, these are made from only 90% raw ingredients because the cocoa beans must be roasted, but that’s still impressive.

The bars come in chocolate, chocolate mint, chocolate orange, and chocolate coffee. As an energy bar or meal replacement bar, they’re pretty good. I personaly prefer the texture of Clif Bars to Jocalat, but I do find the Jocalat bars much more palatable than Powerbars and Odwalla bars.

food-blog-pictures-021.jpgAll four bars are softy, chewy, and studded with nuts. The texture sort of resembles that of fudge, like a stiff puree with an extremely fine grain.

Chocolate - This bar is nuttier than the others, containing walnuts, almonds, and cashews in addition to dates. That’s according to the label, as I couldn’t distinguish between the different nuts as I was eating the bar. It smells deliciously of rich chocolate with a sweet and sour fruity overtone. While the Larabar website claims it to be as indulgent as a fudge brownie, I find that claim a stretch. Real fudge brownies are much better, but real fudge brownies are also full of sugar and butter and bad for you things. The Jocalat bars are fairly chocolate-y but not cloyingly sweet. Unfortunately, the Jocalat bar also has a bit of a sour aftertaste, possibly due to the dates. It’s not terribly unpleasant, but I could do without it.

Chocolate orange - The bar contains only dates and almonds and smells of a freshly peeled orange, and the taste of orange is definitely there. The sour aftertaste is less objectionable here, I think because orange is supposed to be sour.

Chocolate mint - This date and almond filled bar has a strong smell of peppermint, but it doesn’t taste as minty as it smells. The mint taste lingers a bit after the bar is swallowed, and it serves to completely hide the sour taste I found in the chocolate.

Chocolate coffee - According to the website, this bar has significantly more caffeine than the others. It smells sweetly of chocolate covered espresso beans. Tastewise, however, the coffee flavor is only barely detectable as a light aftertaste. In fact, if not for the coffee smell, it find it nearly indistinguishable from the regular chocolate bar. The chocolate coffee is also sweeter than the other bars, and that slight sour taste is pretty obvious.

Overall, I’m impressed that Larabar made something this tasty out of wholesome, mostly raw ingredients. I would recommend these if you’re on a vegan, raw food, gluten-free, or casein-free diet, and I know several parents of children with autism that may find these to be a valuable addition to the pantry and well worth the cost. As for me, I try to eat healthily, but I’m not health conscious to the point of spurning all processed foods. I’ll probably spend my money on deliciously bad for you candy bars instead.

Category: chocolate, coffee, fair trade, mint, not candy, nuts, OM, organic, review | 4 Comments »