Archive for the 'nuts' Category

Guest Post: Japanese Tiramisu Chocolates

October 15th, 2012 by CamNMere

I’m currently at the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans, so I’m turning things over to some globe-trotting friends this week. Cameron and Meredith are former roommates of mine (we did lots of chocolate truffle tastings together), and they’re writing about some treats they bought on a recent trip through Japan. ~Rosa

Hello folks! It’s a pleasure to be here.

I recently schlepped a 40-something pound duffel bag of candy and snacks back from Japan, at the instigation of my travel companion and co-taster Meredith. Customs gave me some pretty weird looks! We’ll be picking a few of the gems from the pile to share with you over the next couple of posts.

Today’s selection is Tiramisu Chocolate and Maccha Tiramisu Chocolate. The packaging lacks an English translation of the brand name, and searching by radical helpfully provides “former time pioneer”. If anyone knows the answer, I’m all ears!

The gold symbol on the right proclaims that they were a 2011 selection by Monde Selection; I’m unaware of how reputable that organization is.

On to the candy! Tiramisu Chocolate’s up first.

Cameron’s Notes:
It smells like cocoa, dark and powdery, but it doesn’t come through in the flavor – the cocoa layer on the outside is very thin. The almond in the middle is quite nice – the crunch is right on. I’d guess they probably dry-roasted the nut from the flavor and crunchiness.

The middle tiramisu layer dominates the flavor and lingers nicely, but it is not as almondy as I would hope and is instead very buttery. I’d prefer this treat to be a hair sweeter and have stronger nut flavor, but overall it’s pretty tasty. An OM – I’d eat these happily, but there are a lot of things I would buy instead if I saw them on the shelf.

Meredith’s Notes:
I am a huge sucker for any sort of coated almond confection, so I had high expectations for the tiramisu almonds, and they mostly delivered. I thought the middle “custard” layer might be yogurty based on its appearance, but it had the more neutral flavor and slippery mouthfeel of a vanilla buttercream, providing a satisfying contrast with the almond crunch.

Based on its name, I also expected some sort of coffee flavor to come through at some point, but I guess that referred more to the layered construction than the flavor, which was 99% butter-almond, 1% cocoa, 0% coffee. Though not complex or wildly innovative, these almonds are a solid contribution to the coated nut domain. OM.

On to the Maccha flavor!

Cameron’s Notes:
The maccha is undetectable to my nose. Notably softer than the cocoa flavor, to its detriment I feel – doesn’t nail the crunch nearly as well. The maccha powder is quite bitter – comparable to a dark chocolate, but lacking the complexity to back it up. It eventually ends up at the same butter flavor as before.

There’s a nice moment where the two flavors balance, but it’s fleeting, caught between the overly aggressive initial maccha flavor and the rather bland butter aftertaste. I like maccha in other contexts, but these are clearly inferior to the cocoa flavor.

Meredith’s Notes:
As an even bigger sucker for matcha-flavored anything, I found the matcha tiramisu nuts disappointingly weird. The unsweetened matcha powder coating the nuts completely dominated the experience and left an astringent, musty aftertaste in my mouth and nose.

I bravely sucked all the bitter powder off a second nut so that I could evaluate the inner regions of the confection without the confounding surface mustiness. Indeed, the matcha flavor was much more balanced and subtle in the buttercream layer. This would have been a much better treat if the matcha-infused buttery layer had been rolled in cocoa instead of matcha. A from me too.

Category: --, Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), guest post, nuts, OM, review | 4 Comments »

Dark Chocolate Chipotle Almonds from Sugarfina

October 12th, 2012 by Rosa

These Dark Chocolate Chipotle Almonds were another free sample from Sugarfina. They came in a little plastic 2×2 inch box, which I believe is their petite size. It held ~20 almonds.

They were much larger than most dark chocolate-covered almonds that I’ve seen, I think because the almonds were first given a chipotle-flavored candy shell before their shiny outer layer of panned chocolate.

That candy shell gave these almonds a great sweet crunch with a lightly spiced smoky chipotle flavor that brought just the right amount of firey heat to the finish.

The almond centers were crunchy as well. Their roasted nuttiness paired well with the chipotle and the chocolate.

Finally, the outer dark chocolate layer was lightly fruity and sweet. It provided a nice undertone to the spicy nuttiness, making this a well-balanced treat all around.

These almonds were like nothing I’d ever had before, and I found them to be an enjoyable treat. I’d love to buy these as a pick-me-up snack, though their $5/~20 price tag on Sugarfina (that’s 25 cents a nut!) puts them into the special-splurge section of my grad student budget. An OM.

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM | No Comments »

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree

October 1st, 2012 by Rosa

This Sea Salt Soiree bar is a new addition to Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark line. At least, I believed the corner label that said it was new – that’s what prompted me to buy it in the first place!

Turns out it’s been out for at least a year. It’s like those “Grand Opening” or “Closeout Sale” banners that hang in front of stores for years.

The outer box described it as, ” dark chocolate with sea salt and roasted almonds”. There’s also a milk chocolate counterpart in their Gourmet Milk line called Sea Salt Escape that I saw at Sweets and Snacks.

Inside, the bar was lightly scored into 8 logo-ed squares. The break along the scores was a nice, sharp snap.

Little bits of almonds were liberally mixed in and added a nice crunch factor. They also brought some astringency to the finish and not nearly enough roasted nutty flavor to the chocolate.

The flakes of sea salt brought occasional flashes of flavor that really picked up and brightened the flavor of the dark chocolate. The dark chocolate was lightly sweet, but alas, I felt that its flavor profile was lost in the astringency of the almonds.

I thought the bar was okay, but I wanted more almond nuttiness and more chocolate flavor. An O.

Category: chocolate, Ghirardelli, nuts, O, review | No Comments »

Hammond’s Piggy Backs – Dark Chocolate Almond & Caramel and Milk Chocolate Pecan & Caramel

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 | No Comments »

Benita’s Peanut Brittle

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 | 2 Comments »

Guest Post: Sarotti Edel-Marzipan

September 10th, 2012 by Neil

I spent my weekend trying to win Duke basketball tickets by sleeping outside, so I’ved turned things over to my ex-pat friend Neil for a couple of reviews. ~Rosa

This bar came, I think, from a supermarket in Osnabrueck, but I can’t be sure.

Here’s a secret: I’m a sucker for marzipan. I don’t know where this affinity came from. It’s just a fact. So, while shopping, I had to pick up this marzipan-filled chocolate bar, which was certainly reasonably priced.

Curious about the meaning of “Edel”, I inquired with a fluent German speaker who pointed to me to a helpful guide which explains that this has to do with the almond/sugar ratio in the mixture.

The 24-bit bar had a more intricate design than I would’ve normally expected. Flipping it over, I found evidence of possible blooming.

On tasting, the chocolate seemed dried out. The marzipan was okay but not a deep enough flavor to meet my demands – nor my expectations, based on the guide.

Thoroughly unimpressed with this. It’s a .

So sad! It’s a gorgeous looking bar, inside and out. Love the black and white look on the chocolate and the spangled pants and turban on the dude in the moon! Sounds like Neil got a bar that’s past its prime; marzipan has a pretty short shelf life. ~Rosa

Category: --, chocolate, European, guest post, nuts, review | 1 Comment »

Dorval Crispy Thins – Hazelnut and Orange

September 7th, 2012 by Rosa

I got to have a nice chat with the folks at Dorval at their booth at Sweets and Snacks. Even though my swag bag already had a box of their orange chocolate thins, they gave me a second box of hazelnut thins at their booth.

The chocolates came in a gold tray with three wells that each contained 6 of the flat, oval thins, and the whole thing was sealed in a clear cellophane bag for freshness. I was impressed at how well the packaging protected the thins – not a single one broke, despite being banged around in my carry-on luggage all the way from Chicago to Durham.

The thins certainly lived up to their name. Each was about 2 inches across at their longer diameter and probably no more than about a quarter centimeter thick at their thickest point.

The chocolate ovals were liberally dotted with little rice crisps that brought a wheaty, toasty crunch. They had a sort of stale texture, so more like puffed rice.

The orange thins reminded me of Terry’s chocolate oranges, with a creamy orange oil flavor. I found it a little artificial and on the edge of cloying, but the low chocolate to crisp ratio helped keep that in check.

The hazelnut crisps were more to my liking. There the chocolate was creamy with mocha notes to the finish and a nice nuttiness that complimented the chocolate in an understated way.

As far as I could tell, the hazelnut was a flavor addition to the chocolate. I didn’t notice the texture of any actual bits of nuts.

I especially liked the natural portion control of these – it feels like a large amount of chocolate on the tongue but is so thin that it isn’t too much. An O for the orange and an OM for the hazelnut.

Category: chocolate, Dorval, nuts, review | No Comments »

Guest Post: Zotter Mitzi Blue Nussmix (Nut Mix)

August 10th, 2012 by Neil

Here’s another great guest post from my ex-pat friend, Neil. Jealous that Zotter is so easy for him to get! ~Rosa

I didn’t even have to travel out of the country for this one! I found the Zotter Mitzi Blue Nussmix (“Nut mix”) in a new organic gourmet shop in town. I was looking for a cookware store, then discovered that the cookware had disappeared and food had gone in its place. Quite a surprise, but a welcome one.

The packaging made me think it was one of those world music CDs. Perhaps this was intentional. While the bar itself was a disc (is that geometrically possible?), the similarities ended there.

This fair trade, organic combination of hazelnuts, hazelnut nougat, cashew nougat, walnuts, and milk chocolate was a bit broken when I took it out of the packaging. This made the task of figuring out where to start that much easier. I was most intrigued by the center circle.

The milk chocolate of the main disc was very plain and light. While the surprisingly large nut chunks were distributed somewhat unevenly, they were tasty and added an appreciated varied texture.

It turned out that the center disc was cashew nougat! It broke off as though it would be crispy but was very pleasantly creamy. I wished the whole thing had been cashew nougat.

The predominantly boring milk chocolate really underwhelmed though, so I’ll give this whole piece an O. The company has a whole line of Mitzi Blues, so maybe I’ll track down some more. It’d give me an excuse to visit that delicious shop again…

Category: chocolate, European, fair trade, guest post, nuts, O, organic, review | 3 Comments »

Boyer Milk Chocolate and Butterscotch Smoothie Peanut Butter Cups

August 8th, 2012 by Rosa

I got these free samples of Boyer’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and their Butterscotch Smoothie Peanut Butter Cups at Sweets and Snacks this year. They’re an old school candy company that was founded during the Great Depression.

My cups got a little squashed and cracked by the time I got to unwrapping them. Each package contained two cups.

The milk chocolate of the milk chocolate peanut butter cup had crumbled a bit around the edges. It was extremely sweet and melted thickly on my tongue with a cocoa finish.

The peanut butter center was quite dry and crumbly and turned into a thick, dry paste on my tongue. It had a strong nuttiness to it, which was great, but I also found it overwhelmingly salty – less great.

The sweet chocolate helped some to temper that saltiness, but I still found it to be too salty. The nutrition facts reports 115mg in 2 cups, which doesn’t sound like much, but it certainly tastes like much.

Smoothie Butterscotch was a lighter golden caramel fudge color. Its coating was sweet and creamy and sort of fake-buttery tasting, with little bits of peanuts in the top layer that added a great fresh roasted nuttiness.

The center, however, had the same dry saltiness. Because the butterscotch coating was sweeter than the chocolate, it stood up to the salty center a little better.

I like the general flavor of these treats, and I like sweet and salty flavor combos, but these were a bit too much on the salty. I can’t handle more than half a cup at a time, though I did enjoy the halves enough to give these an O.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, peanut butter, review | No Comments »

Toblerone – Crunchy Salted Almond

July 27th, 2012 by Rosa

Kraft was showing off this Crunchy Salted Almond Toblerone at Sweets and Snacks this year. They were melting it down and giving it out as fondue samples. I managed to charm my way into a free sample for review from the nice ladies at Kraft.

This Toblerone was described as “Swiss milk chocolate with salted caramelized almonds and honey and almond nougat.” For comparative purposes, regular Toblerone is described in the same way, just minus the salted caramelized almonds part.

While regular Toblerones are already pretty crunchy from the nougat bits, this was even crunchier with the added bits of almonds. Those almond bits were variable in size and definitely asserted their presence in both flavor and texture.

They added a strong crunchiness and intense nuttiness. The hit of saltiness that they brought was also quite noticeable.

The honey nougat bits were candied and sweet with an interesting squishy/squeaky texture. Some bits crunched while others got flattened and half embedded in my molars.

The milk chocolate was sweet and thick with a dusky caramel finish that went well with the added salt. If it was the same milk chocolate as that of the regular Toblerone, the extra saltiness helped tone down the chocolate’s sweetness.

It got a bit too sweet in the finish for my taste, though I found it less cloying than regular Toblerone. I think the dark chocolate version is the best balanced Toblerone variety.

Still, I really enjoyed this, and the salted almonds are a great addition. I’ll happily finish my current mountain range of these, but I don’t think I’d buy them again. An OM.

Category: chocolate, European, nougat, nuts, OM, review | No Comments »