Archive for the 'nuts' Category

Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

July 20th, 2012 by Rosa

I’ve never been an, “OMG PEANUT BUTTER!” person, so though I’ve seen Justin’s peanut butter cups at Whole Foods for ages, I’ve never felt the urge to pick up a pack. When they were being given out as free samples at Sweets and Snacks, however, I made sure to get one!

The cups came two to a pack, each sitting loosely in a little white paper cup. They were gorgeous and well-formed, with well-defined fluted edges.

The dark chocolate was creamy with a smooth melt that had a lightly fatty airy feel. It tasted of dark chocolate cocoa with a hint of fruity finish – maybe cherry?

The peanut butter in the center was quite dry with a slight grit and the occasional larger bit of not-fully-ground nut. It had a great roasted golden nuttiness and a salty finish.

While saltiness is usually a boon in a chocolate+peanut butter treat, here the salt was just a bit too heavy-handed for my taste.

Still, I really appreciated the elevated quality of the fresh-tasting peanut butter. I’m going to hunt down the milk chocolate version of these to see if the sweeter milk chocolate is a better balance for the relatively saltier peanut butter. An O for the dark chocolate version.

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

Hammond’s PB&J Sandwich

July 13th, 2012 by Rosa

Hammond’s PB&J Sandwich bar was creating quite a stir at Sweet and Snacks. It won the most innovative new product award in the chocolate category, where they were up against some Hershey’s products and some Wild Ophelia (from Vosges) bars.

The bar was segmented into 10 H-embossed rectangles with a solid break between each piece. The milk chocolate shell had a thick and creamy melt with a strong sweetness and a slight tinge of sourness to the finish.

Inside the chocolate was the money-maker: dual layers of peanut butter and jelly! The peanut butter was an extremely thick paste. It had a mild nuttiness and a pleasant duskiness to it.

The jelly was a red gel-like goop with a bit of ooze. It was sweet with a mild red fruitiness to the finish.

Alas, I think the chocolate was too overpowering here and masked much of the peanut butter and jelly flavor. I would’ve especially like more oomph to the jelly. I always use jam or preserves rather than jelly when making real PB&Js, as jelly isn’t fruity enough for me, and I have the same complaint about the jelly in this bar.

Still, lots of points for creativity and visually pleasing execution. An O.

Category: chocolate, Hammond's Candies, nuts, O, review | No Comments »

Yan Yan Creamy Choco-Hazelnut vs Nutella & Go

July 6th, 2012 by Rosa

Nutella & Go won the Most Innovative New Product Award in the sweet snacks category at this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo. It was a plastic tub with biscuit sticks and a little dipping well of Nutella.

Sounds/looks familiar? That’s because Meiji‘s Yan Yan has been making basically the same product for at least a decade. I remember eating them while growing up.

While Meiji was handing out Yan Yan’s at the Expo, no one handed them any awards. I’d say this is an instance of Europeans taking credit (or at least acclaim) for something Asian people invented years ago.

Clearly this calls for a head-to-head comparison. While Yan Yan comes in an assortment of flavors in both dipping cream and biscuit stick, I’m using their creamy choco-hazelnut dip for maximum similarity to Nutella & Go.

Both the Yan Yan and Nutella & Go were free samples from Sweets and Snacks. The former was given to me by Meiji’s US distributor for the purposes of this head-to-head review, while the latter was freely left out for all takers by Ferrero.

Both products were quite similar in packaging design with a little well separating the dipping medium from the dipping sticks. Yan Yan came in a trapezoidal tube (the top circle was slightly bigger than the bottom; is there a fancy math term for this shape?) while Nutella & Go was in a half circle tube with a trompe l’oeil Nutella jar look.

Let’s start with the dipping sticks. The Yan Yan biscuits were longer and a lightly toasty golden brown. They tasted slightly sweet with a tinge of butteriness to the finish.

The Nutella & Go sticks, on the other hand, were shorter, with the pale, alabaster hue of Dita Von Teese‘s skin. They were airier, like a crunchy restaurant breadstick. The flavor reminded me of the wheaty blandness of a saltless saltine.

Yan Yan definitely came out ahead on the dipping stick front. Let’s move on to the dips!

Yan Yan’s “smooth creme” had the texture of whipped frosting. When I dipped and then pulled out the stick, little holes were left in the cream. The flavor was that of malty chocolate with a light tinge of nuttiness.

The Nutella portion of the Nutella & Go was, as far as I could tell, the same as standard Nutella. It was much more flowy. When I pulled the sticks out of the Nutella, it clung to the sticks with a long pull, and the Nutella left in the well settled to fill in the holes.

Though it had a viscous flow in the well and on the stick, the Nutella felt thick, sticky, and pasty in my mouth. The hazelnuttiness was much stronger here, with a great nutty intensity that matched its chocolatey-ness.

I’m going to call it a draw on the dips. Though they’re supposed to be similar, they’re actually quite different in flavor and texture. I liked the Yan Yan version for its malty notes, but I also enjoyed Nutella for the nuttiness. And because its Nutella!

In the end, Yan Yan wins out for its tasty biscuit sticks. Nutella & Go’s sticks were not very good and didn’t add anything to the product. I’d stick with just getting Nutella in a jar. An OM for the Yan Yan and an O for Nutella & Go.

 

 

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, cookie, European, Ferrero, Meiji, nuts, O, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Jelina Chocolatier – Honey Nougat and Maple Crunch

July 2nd, 2012 by Rosa

Jelina Chocolatier was one of the most interesting booths for me at Sweets and Snacks. At the time, they were a Canadian chocolate company looking for a US distributor. I hope they managed to strike a deal to get themselves sold in the US!

Their line of chocolate bars included many intriguing offerings. Luckily for me, they were generous in offering me free samples of what I thought were their two most interesting bars, a Honey Nougat Milk Chocolate and a Maple Crunch Milk Chocolate.

Both bars came in a shiny, sturdy silver bag inside an un-dyed cardboard paper box – probably a calculated move to play up their wholesome Fair Trade factor – with quaint little line drawings representing the contents. The chocolate bars themselves were formed into a 3X5 lightly scored grid of rectangular pods.

Honey Nougat had a soft break along its segments. The milk chocolate base was thick and creamy with strong caramel notes.

The nougat bits added a light toffee-like crunch. Those honeyed bits had a pure, amber sweetness that reminded me of Lyle’s golden syrup. It added just the right touch of sweetness.

Finally, there was some tiny bits of almonds dispersed throughout the bar. They didn’t add much nuttiness, but they did contribute to the crunch factor, along with the nougat bits. An OM.

Maple Crunch was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. The milk chocolate also had a soft break, but here it tasted sweeter with less prominent caramel notes.

The bar was full of slightly grainy bits of maple sugar that added a wonderful, surprisingly sturdy crunch. I didn’t think it would be possible to mix maple sugar into melted chocolate without melting the sugar as well, but I guess it is.

The deep brown sugar tones of the maple syrup sugar paired well with the sweet milk chocolate. I loved this for its unique flavor and texture. An OMG.

Category: chocolate, fair trade, nougat, nuts, OM, OMG, review | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: SladCo Traditional Milk Chocolate With Large Inclusions With Raisins And Hazelnuts

June 15th, 2012 by Neil

Here’s the last of this week’s reviews from Neil, my globe-trotting expat friend. ~Rosa

No joke about the title; that’s what the first bit of the English translation of this bar says. SladCo, or Slad & Co., is the Russian brand that produced this, I later learned. I would have gladly paid a few tetri more for this bar from the Tbilisi supermarket I found it in if the manufacturer would have put that money to buying more punctuation!

Once again, I was confused by the pictures on the label. Currants? Some kinds of berries? Oh, those are grapes? Thanks, English text sandwiched  in between seven other languages spoken around the Caucasus!

The bar was sectioned into 24 pieces, each imprinted with the Russian for “Slad & Co”. Mostly, it looked to be uniform chocolate, but a half dozen black specks were on the surface, hinting at the fruit inside. Pieces broke reasonably well along the scoring, with minimal shattering.

The chocolate was mild but not quite milky, and the nut pieces were small but noticeable “inclusions”. The raisins, on the other hand, were whole and therefore prominent and quite pleasing.

Every component of this candy worked well with every other component. There was a bit of a dry finish after multiple pieces, but that could just be my dehydration talking.

I wish I’d picked up a good bit more of this. I found it far too easy to munch through much of the bar on first tasting it, and I feel like it’d be a nice after-dinner treat, perhaps with some cheese or in the winter.  I’m happy to give this an OM.

Category: chocolate, guest post, nuts, OM, review, Russian | 1 Comment »

Sulpice Chocolat – Gingembre

June 4th, 2012 by Rosa

Sulpice Chocolat had a booth at Sweets and Snacks with some gorgeous samples laid out. I was trying to limit how much sugar I actually consumed on the show floor, so I was happy when Sulpice agreed to mail me a free sample bar to review at home.

I got the Gingembre, which was “crystallized ginger, lemon essence, toasted and salted macadamia nuts” in 55% dark chocolate. Like all of their bars, it came molded into fifteen connected capsules handpainted with pretty splatters of colored chocolate.

I expected it to be a filled chocolate bar, due to the way it was segmented into pods. Instead, those pods were solid chocolate. Though the bar broke cleanly along its segments, the thicker pods had a softer break when I bit into them.

The chocolate had a smooth and spicy melt that finished with a nice cocoa duskiness. Its flavor was dominated by strong ginger notes. The bite of ginger flavor was there without the painful burn that can come with true ginger.

The lemon essence added a bright, sunshiney overtone. Had I not known that it was in the ingredients, I would have chalked its flavor up to extra fresh ginger. It really serves just to amp up the ginger flavor.

The macadamia nut bits were tiny and sparsely scattered throughout the bar. They added a light crunch and toastiness that cut through the sweet chocolate. I didn’t notice any textural differences that would have been caused by physical bits of crystallized ginger.

I found this bar to be quite enjoyable – lovely on the eyes and the palate. The physical presentation would make it good for gift-giving. An OM.

 

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

Niederegger Marzipans

June 1st, 2012 by Rosa

I got this assortment of Neideregger chocolate-covered marzipans at Sweets and Snacks. I was happy to snatch them up, as these babies cost a pretty penny in the real world. But in candy trade show world, they were free!

These are one of the first chocolates that I’m reviewing from the Expo because marzipan can quickly lose its flavor and texture. The centers of these little loaves were all still soft and flavorful.

Each was about the size of the first joint of my thumb. All were covered with a thin layer of mild chocolate.

Red was regular bittersweet chocolate covered marzipan, the Niederegger original. The marzipan center was a soft, slightly grainy paste with a slightly moist center. It was nutty and lightly sweet with the perfume of almonds/Amaretto.

Red-orange was orange. It carried the flavor of candied orange zest with its distinctive citrus oil bite. I think I could also detect the added texture of orange rind, but it could have been my imagination.

Orange-gold was pineapple. There was a subtle hint of the sweet and sour flavor of pineapple, a muted, not at all bright version of the real fruit.

Pistachio came in a green wrapper and had a green/yellow tinge to its center. The Amaretto notes were still there but with the floralness toned down. I didn’t get any pistachio flavors; just more nuttiness.

Finally, black was espresso, and its center was nearly as brown as the chocolate coating. It tasted like coffee smells, deep and almost bitter, with some added cocoa flavors.

I really enjoyed these. The chocolate coatings were fine but barely noticeable. The great marzipan centers were the star.

An OM, with a wish that they were affordable enough to be an impulse buy. Instead, they’ll retain their specialness thanks to their price tag.

Cybele has a great write up of Niederegger from her German press junket. The marzipan churning pictures look absolutely luscious. I bet hers were even fresher than mine!

Category: chocolate, European, news, nuts, OM | 1 Comment »

Ritter Sport – Rum Raisin and Nuts

May 30th, 2012 by Rosa

This Ritter Sport Rum Raisin and Nuts was one of the most exciting samples that I brought back from Sweets and Snacks.

According to the Gourmet Grand Dame bloggess of the company that imports Ritter Sports to the U.S., Alfred Ritter didn’t want to export this flavor of Ritter because the rum flavor dissipates if it spends too long on the shelf. I believe that they convinced him it would be okay to sell it in the U.S. as a limited edition around the holidays, so you may see this in the States eventually.

The second that I unwrapped this bar, I was launched into booze city! The bar smelled overwhelmingly of rum and sweetness.

The flavor of rum pervaded every bite. There was no burn, just the flavor of alcohol.

The chocolate had a softer texture than expected – solid, but with no snap. Little bits of hazelnut that were generously distributed in every square added a dry crunch and toasty nuttiness.

Small raisins also distributed throughout the bar added a mild sweetness and a slight change in texture. Their grapey flavor, however, was lost in the boozy chocolate.

I enjoyed this bar for the novelty factor. Alcohol flavored chocolate is still a relative rarity in the U.S., and I’ve never had anything like this before. An OM.

 

Category: chocolate, European, nuts, OM, review, Ritter Sport | 2 Comments »

Fudgie Wudgie Rocky Road Fudge

May 21st, 2012 by Rosa

Though I love candy of nearly all forms, I actually don’t like fudge. I find it to be far too sweet. Chocolate is great as it is; why turn it into a super-saturated sugar bomb?

Thus, when online candy retailer CandyFavorites.com sent me a free box of Fudgie Wudgie Rocky Road Fudge to review, I approached it with guarded suspicion.

It came in a super shiny red box adorned with a stretchy gold elastic tie. Inside was trapezoidal plastic trough, about 2″ X 2.5″ X 6.5″. It was heavy and dense and jam-packed with fudge.

The Rocky Road Fudge had a thick milk chocolate fudge base. The texture was really nice – totally smooth and creamy without any sugar graininess – while the flavor was that of ultra sweet chocolate. It was so sweet that it finished on a noticeably sour tinge.

The fudge was speckled with fluffy pockets of foamy marshmallow that tasted of sweet sugar. Based on the size and pure whiteness of the marshmallow pockets, I’m going to guess that they used to be standard mini-marshmallows, like what you’d get at the grocery store.

Bits of walnut were also distributed throughout the fudge, I think more sparsely than the marshmallow was. Most of the bits of were small, but I came across one giant half piece in the small tasting sliver I cut. The big chunk was nice, as it enabled the mild walnut to balance out the sweetness of the fudge.

I was pleasantly surprised as I enjoyed this more than I thought I was. It was definitely still too sweet for my palate, but I loved the creaminess of the texture. An O.

Category: chocolate, marshmallow, nuts, O, review | 3 Comments »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Toffee with Walnuts and Pecans

May 4th, 2012 by Rosa

Today I’m reviewing a second Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar on the heels of Wednesday’s review (that I briefly accidentally posted on Tuesday; oops!). This time, it’s toffee with walnuts and pecans. Here’s its epic description from the back of the box:

“The beauty of caramelized sugar reveals itself in flying colors when mixed with butter and artisinal sea salt to create rich toffee. Add walnuts and pecans to that toffee, then pair it all with our sophisticated deep, dark chocolate…”

This solid bar was scored into 8 rectangles. Mine had slightly bloomed, but I didn’t notice any detriment to its flavor or texture.

It had a sharp snap that revealed bits of toffee and nuts along the break. The roasted nuts and cleanly cleaving toffee added a pleasant, dry crunch that made me want to chomp this bar rather than let it melt.

The nuttiness of this bar was immediately noticeable. Walnut’s mild, acrid nuttiness and pecan’s darker nutty tinge were both present, and the whole thing finished on a strongly salty note.

The toffee added a light sweetness. Though I didn’t get any caramel complexity, the sweetness played off the salty and nutty quite well. It would’ve been nice to get more scorchiness, but it served its role just fine as is.

I’ll call this bar a win for Trader Joe’s. Though I thought it was a tad too salty at the finish, I enjoyed the toffee and loved the strength of flavor of the nuts. An OM.

 

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | No Comments »