Archive for the 'toffee' Category

SunDomes assorted chocolates

May 11th, 2009 by Rosa

My favorite part about Whole Foods is their bulk food bins. I can pick out as much or as little as I want! Instead of buying a whole jar of a spice when I only need a pinch, I can buy just a pinch. Instead of buying a whole tub full of chocolate-covered almonds when I have a craving, I can buy just a handful.

And instead of buying a whole box or bag or whatever these usually come in, I can pick out just the SunDome flavors that I want to try: Chip ‘N Mint, Cashew Coconut Crunch, Mocha Jolt, and Chocolate Almond Toffee.

I’m currently having a hard time finding out more about these, as the SunRidge Farms website is under construction as of the time I’m writing this post. Best I can tell, they fit into Whole Foods’ image of crunchy-granola (literally) save-the-earth ethos pretty well. I can’t tell you, unfortunately, how many different kinds of SunDomes there are. I do remember the bin having at least twice as many different kinds as I bought – I wanted to get one of each, but that got heavy and too expensive.

The SunDomes are, expectedly, dome-shaped blocks of chocolate flavored in accordance with their names. The chocolate blocks are solid and thick, so not that easy to bite through and also not that easy to share. Each dome is sizeable, about half the size of a hockey puck.

Chip ‘N Mint had a strong, pepperminty scent with little bits of cookie or rice crisp that gave it a hint of crunch. The peppermint was nicely balanced – noticeable, but not too strong.

Mocha Jolt had a strong, genuine coffee taste that was quite enjoyable. There was a slight grit to the texture, which I’m pretty sure was ground up bits of coffee beans. Both of these were solid and thick, with a hefty, dull snap.

Cashew Coconut Crunch turned out to be a surprise. Its chocolate was a bit softer and milkier. It smelled strongly of coconut and had a hint of toasted dry coconut flavor that mingled with the slight nuttiness imparted by tiny bits of cashews sprinkled throughout. The surprise? Raisins! They added a fruity-raisin taste that sort of worked and sort of didn’t. For me, at least, that’s also how I feel about raisins. They sort of work as a snack, but they sort of don’t.

Finally, the Chocolate Almond Toffee, which also had a bit more give when bitten into. It starts with a slight nuttiness, thanks to the tiny bits of almond embedded throughout, that’s more roasty than that of the Cashew Coconut Crunch. That nuttiness then gives way to a burnt sugar note from the toffee aspect. I appreciated its complexity and flavor development.

I wish these came in smaller portions. I ate them across several sessions because they were just so big, and one bite of each was plenty satisfying. If they came in little tasting disks or something, I’d buy all of them again. As is, I think the Mocha Jolt and the Chocolate Almond Toffee are worth buying again, so they get OMs, while the Cashew Coconut Crunch and the Chip ‘N Mint are too big for their own good and get Os.

Category: chocolate, coconut, coffee, cookie, mint, nuts, O, OM, review, toffee | No Comments »

Hershey’s Symphony Almonds and Toffee Chips

April 8th, 2009 by Rosa

After Monday’s review, a Heath vs Skor showdown, I thought I’d continue the theme of chocolate + toffee with a review of Hershey’s Symphony of the Almonds and Toffee Chips persuasion. I think Hershey’s Symphony is a funny line – it doesn’t get much recognition or advertising, so it’s not especially distinctive, yet it’s been around for nearly as long as I’ve been alive (since 1989) and is pretty easy to find. There must be something redeeming about it to keep it around. Meanwhile, Joseph Schmidt’s line of truffles gets the axe. Sigh…

I think the Symphony line is supposed to be notable for the creaminess of the milk chocolate. I don’t quite get the name, especially since they make a plain milk chocolate Symphony, and the word Symphony conjures up images of complexity, but I do appreciate the effort of the packaging, with horizontal lines are probably meant to evoke the lines of a music staff. I wonder if the word Symphony could have been rejiggered to have a treble cleff as the S.

Underneath the wrapper, the bar has the big, traditional HERSHEY’S block logo on it, with what I consider to be the classic Hershey’s Almond bar shape – the rectangle with the arched curve to it. You can see the bits of almond and toffee in the cross section.

The bar was extremely nutty smelling thanks to the almonds. Unlike the Skor and Heath bars, which are toffee with chocolate, this was chocolate with toffee. And nice chocolate, too! The chocolate was creamy with a thick melt and a fruity finish, definitely different and superior to regular Hershey’s milk chocolate.

The almonds were in pretty big chunks and few and far between, so I didn’t come across them too often. The toffee added a bit of flavor but contributed more in texture, with a nice, cleaving crunch. Overall, it was a pleasant combination of tastes and textures. I’d give the bar an OM, and I wonder why the Symphony line doesn’t get more cred.

Category: chocolate, Hershey's, OM, review, toffee | 2 Comments »

Skor versus Heath

April 6th, 2009 by Rosa

Back when I reviewed the Daim bar, I wondered what the difference was (or if there was a difference) between Skor bars and Heath bars. Ostensibly, they seem identical: both are chocolate covered crunchy toffee bars, and both are made by Hershey’s. But since it doesn’t make sense for Hershey to make two identical products, there must be something that sets them apart. Let’s find out, shall we?

They’re somewhat differently described on their wrappers: Skor is “delicious milk chocolate/crisp butter toffee” while Heath is a “milk chocolate English toffee bar.” I already kind of take issue with the Heath description, as English toffee is chewy like caramel, but whatever.

Cross sectionally, the bars look somewhat different. I’m 95% sure that the Heath is on the left and the Skor is on the right (this review backs me up), but I took the picture so long ago that I’m no longer positive. As you can see, both have the same rippled chocolate coating, but one’s toffee is more yellow/gold (left; Heath?), while the other’s is more dark brown.

Tastewise, they differ as well. Skor’s darker colored toffee also tasted darker. It was sweet with a touch of duskiness. The Heath bar had a brighter sweetness that was unpleasantly cloying, and its toffee tasted more buttery, with a super sweet finish.

I’d give the Skor the edge in the match-up, so it gets an OM while Heath gets an O. Skor may benefit from reference effects, however. Who knows; I could’ve given it an O if I’d just tasted it alone.

Category: chocolate, Hershey's, O, OM, review, toffee | 4 Comments »

See’s Assorted Chocolates Week – Day 3

February 13th, 2009 by Rosa

Today marks the conclusion of Rosa eats her way through an entire box of See’s on her own because it’s delicious and free. I began my journey on Monday, continued on Wednesday, and today, the finish line is in sight.

I’m not sure what makes the California brittle Californian. It’s a hard toffee with almonds that’s covered in milk chocolate. Unlike some toffees, this brittle doesn’t really cleave. It kind of just breaks. I could almost feel the tiny air bubbles dissolving on my tongue as I chewed it. The salty almonds go well with the brittle, which was pretty throat-burningly sweet. An O, but a positive one that I can see others enjoying.

The Mayfair was probably the easiest to identify, at least once I bit into it, because it was shockingly pink. This is described as buttercream with cherries and English walnuts. I don’t care for buttercream chocolates in general because I find them too sweet, and this guy is both too sweet and unappetizingly bursting with artificial cherry flavor. An O.

Two of my favorite See’s chocolates were the most simple, the above milk peanuts and the dark almonds (photo here). Good quality roasted nuts plus good quality See’s chocolate makes for yum. Both were great combinations of salty/sweet and melty/creamy/crunchy with toasted nut overtones. I could eat these all day. OMGs for both.

The cocoanut (sic) was milk chocolate around a coconut buttercream. I actively dislike most coconut candies, so to say that I found this tasty is a significant compliment. It had a nice coconut flavor without too much of the shreddy textural issues I have with sugared, dried, and shredded coconut. It helped that the milk chocolate mostly overpowered much of the coconut flavor. An OM.

Last up in our pictorial component is the milk pattie, vanilla caramel in milk chocolate. The caramel is soft with a moderate level of chewiness and stickiness. It doesn’t have much flavor that stands up to the milk chocolate, but I did enjoy its dusky finish. I’d love to try the dark version, which may let the caramel assert itself more. An OM.

Finally, I’d like to note two See’s chocolates that I do not have photos for. First, the molasses chips that were in my box got damaged during shipping and ended up in bits and pieces all over the box. I greatly enjoyed picking those pieces out and devouring them. Molasses chips are one of my favorite See’s products. They’re a thin brittle sweetened with honey and molasses and covered in chocolate, and they are divine. They come in dark and milk, and while I prefer the dark, I still love the milk. A ZOMG! for either iteration. You can see them in the below photo of a box I bought myself over a year ago. They’re the four thin rectangles on the left. You can also buy them by themselves, in a mixed assorted box or in milk and dark boxes.

The other See’s chocolate that I do not have a photo of is their Scotchmallow. The Scotchmallow is  absolutely, hands-down my favorite See’s product, and I have no photo of it because I am saving mine for a special occasion. An ex-boyfriend of mine loves them (in fact, he’s the one who introduced me to them), and I knew he really liked me when he was willing to share his beloved Scotchmallows with me. See how seriously I take my Scotchmallows? They’re even at the top of my all time favorite candies list.

They also come in bar form, as in the photo above, in heart form for Valentine’s Day and in egg form for Easter, but the round chocolate form in their assorted chocolates selection is really the best, I think, as it gets the proportions just right: thick squishy honey marshmallow over a wonderfully butterscotchy caramel, all enrobed in dark chocolate… If you couldn’t see it coming, it gets a ZOMG! like whoa.

So after all this See’s reviewing, what would go in my ideal custom box? At least two sets of dark molasses chips, a set of milk molasses chips, a dark cocoanut, a dark pattie (which I didn’t get to try), a dark almond and a dark peanut, a milk almond and a milk peanut, a caramel with almonds, a couple of marzipans, a dark nougat, a butterscotch square, and fill the rest of the box to the brim with Scotchmallows. The next time I’m in a See’s store, that’ll be exactly what I’ll order (plus a few Scotch kisses, Almond Royals, and Toffee-ettes).

I can’t stress enough how great a value See’s is. They may not be as fancy or as dazzlingly pretty as some of the more expensive chocolates that I’ve tried, but you really can’t beat paying just under $20 a pound for great tasting chocolate. Even I can afford that. And as a bonus, at that price, you don’t feel so bad when you come across one that you don’t love.

Category: caramel, chocolate, coconut, marshmallow, nuts, O, OM, OMG, review, See's, toffee, ZOMG! | 3 Comments »

Daim

August 1st, 2008 by Rosa

Every time I go to Ikea, I see bags of Daim chocolates and consider buying them. But I never do because they’re good-sized bags, and it seems like too much candy for me to buy at once. When you have a stash as big as mine, you don’t want to add large bags of all the same candy. Fortunately, they can be bought in manageable single bars all over England, so I was able to give them a try.

I like that the bars are boldly emblazoned with the price so I don’t have to worry about being overcharged by one convenience store or the other. Thirty-eight pence (about $0.75 with today’s weak dollar) is a solid deal for a bar in the U.K.,and the Daim is more than worth it.

The Daim is quite like a Heath or Skor bar (by the way, can anyone explain why Hershey’s makes two nearly identical bars?) in that it’s chocolate over toffee. The Daim, however, bills its center (or centre) as almond caramel, and I think the almond really makes a difference.

The toffee center of the Daim is crisp and nutty thanks to those additional almonds. The darkly flavored toffee center cleaves cleanly upon being bitten and has a great crunch to it. It kind of gets stuck in your molars but not impossibly so. The milk chocolate coatings is quite sweet, and while it stops short of being cloying, I would like to try a dark chocolate version of the Daim.

I found this bar quite enjoyable, but I love toffee, so my OMG for this may be biased. Then again, David Lebovitz loved it, and Clotilde designed a delicious-looking recipe around it: gateaux aux Daims.

Category: chocolate, European, Ikea, nuts, OMG, review, toffee | 5 Comments »

Thorntons Chocolate Smothered Toffee

June 30th, 2008 by Rosa

Last semester, I went to a Master’s Tea with Melanie Dunea, author/photographer of My Last Supper. The book consists of her photographs of 50 world famous chefs, including Eric Ripert, Wylie Dufresne, Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, and Mario Batali, and what they’d like their last suppers to be like. If you ever come across the book, check out Guy Savoy’s excellent response. It’s a great coffee table book, and it makes a great gift for foodie friends. In fact, I got a copy of it signed for my friend Cassie’s 21st birthday present. I also may have read through it before I gave it to her…

So what does My Last Supper have to do with Thorntons Chocolate Smothered Toffee? Well, after hearing Ms. Dunea talk about meeting all those great chefs, I was curious as to what she would have for her last supper. So I asked her. She said her ideal last meal would be Thortons Chocolate Smothered Toffee and a glass of red wine. Luckily, there’s a Thortons right in the Cambridge City Centre, so I was able to make a bag of chocolate smothered toffee my first candy purchase in the UK.

I was surprised at how irregularly shaped the toffee pieces were, as they all looked fairly uniform on the photo on the bag. The outer coating of milk chocolate was sweet and creamy and definitely noticeable, as there was about 1/2 a centimeter thick layer of it. It certainly smothered, and it made the confection a tad too sweet for my taste.

When the candy was cold, the toffee inside cleaved like American toffee but once warmed in your hand or in your mouth, it chews into a super sticky caramel, like UK toffee normally does. And when I say sticky, I mean sticky. The flavor was nicely buttery, but it gets stuck in your teeth like whoa. Somehow that buttery taste didn’t translate into a physically buttery (aka greasy, not overly sticky) toffee. Usually, that would be a plus, but in this case, not so much.

The toffee was just too messy to eat. Because the chunks were so big, you couldn’t pop one whole in your mouth, but if you bit off a piece, by the time you finished chewing and chewing and chewing, the rest of the piece would have melted all over your fingers. I know because I brought the rest of the bag into lab to share at lunchtime. I warned people that it was hard to chew, but the intrepid sweet-toothed ones forged ahead anyway. And they struggled messily, and I felt guilty for subjecting them to candy-related social faux pas.

In conclusion, the toffee was tasty but messy and difficult to eat, making it more difficult to enjoy. I didn’t think to try it with a glass of red wine; I think that would actually pair nicely, with the acidity of the wine cutting through the sweetness of the candy. The toffee gets an OM from me. I wouldn’t turn it down if it appeared at my last supper, but I wouldn’t make any special request for it.

Finally, on an unrelated note, happy birthday, Mom! I’m sorry I can’t be home to spend it with you, but I am thinking happy thoughts for you, with a 5-hour time difference head start.

Category: caramel, chocolate, European, OM, review, Thorntons, toffee | 4 Comments »

Fannie May Chocolates – Part II of Chicago Week

May 7th, 2008 by Rosa

The saga of my sweet-toothing my way through Chicago continues with Fannie May chocolates, who I would liken to Chicago’s version of See’s, except See’s is better.

At a Fannie May store, I picked out a selection of their chocolates and a few of their individually wrapped candies (review on those to come next week). Top down in columns, from left to right they are, as best as I can tell/remember: bittermint, some nougat thing, vanilla buttercream dark, no clue, buttercrisp, peanut butter, raspberry cream?, lemon buttercream, and a Trinidad. The salesguy assured me that there would be a comprehensive key online. There isn’t.

bittermint – this was a mint in the York Peppermint Pattie vein. The dark chocolate shell was quite thick, and the gooey mint innards had a strong mintiness tempered by a slight bitterness. The lightly bitter finish went nicely with the dark chocolate.

rectangular nougat thing – I have no idea what this is and couldn’t match it up to anything on their website. It was dark chocolate coating a chewy, nutty nougat log that tasted of maple, I thin.

vanilla buttercream dark – I’m not a big fan of buttercreams but let myself be talked into buying this one by Katie, who loves them. This was sweet and cloying but otherwise had a great vanilla flavor. If you have a higher sugar tolerance than I do, you’d probably like it.

buttercrisp – an almond buttercrisp in milk chocolate. I found it too be too hard to bite into and with a weird, not quite toffee-like texture (it didn’t cleave like toffee does).

peanut butter - a creamy peanut butter filling where the peanut butter was not nearly nutty or salty enough. The milk chocolate shell was slightly too thick for balance.

raspberry cream – I think that’s what this was. The chocolate shell was thicker than I expected, and the filling tasted strongly artificial with a slight cherry cordial winey-ness to it.

lemon buttercream - the center of this tasted like a lemon meringue pie. The lemon-ness was super bright.

Trinidad – I’ve managed to save the best for last: it’s a chocolate cream center with “pastel coating” and toasted coconut. The chocolate filling was smooth and creamy, and the coconut flavor was just right.  The only one I really enjoyed from the ones I picked.

I had wanted to buy some Mint Meltaways in my boxed assortment but the salesguy told me not to because their mintiness would overpower everything else. I managed to buy a little tray of 3 larger meltaways at a Walgreen’s instead. I tasted them after the Frangos that I so loved, and they paled in comparison.

The Mint Meltaways had a pastel green white chocolate coating that tasted too sweet and sugary. It gave the confection an unpleasantly greasy creaminess and a thick finish. The mint flavor was weaker than that of Frangos, and it was more artificial tasting.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy Fannie May that much. I liked the bittermint and Trinidad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek those out. An O for the chocolates described here. The individually wrapped chocolates I bought fared much better, and my review of those will publish on Monday.

Category: chocolate, coconut, mint, nougat, nuts, O, peanut butter, review, toffee, white chocolate | 1 Comment »

Lily O’Briens Chocolate Collection – Eating my words, and happily!

April 30th, 2008 by Rosa

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review of Lily O’Briens crispy heart and sticky toffee. It was about as scathing as I get:

“From the two I tasted, a crispy heart and a sticky toffee, either Ireland has poor chocolatiers or Lily O’Briens is quite overrated.”

The next day, I got the following email from one of their representatives:

“I work for Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates and have read your comments on our two signature recipes with great interest. Our chocolates, when fresh, taste truly fantasti and the two recipes critiqued are among our chocolate fans’ favourites (check out the testimonials on our website from across the globe). Unfortunately I would suspect that the chocolates tasted we were past their best and should not actually be on sale still… I would be happy to send you fresh chocolates if you would like to critique them fairly.”

I was impressed that Lily O’Briens was so willing to stand behind their chocolates, and I was eager to take them up on their offer of a re-review. After all, I had bought the original chocolates from an Italian coffee shop in tourist trap Las Vegas, not exactly a place that would be worried about quality control and customer loyalty. When a generous package arrived from Ireland, and I happily ate my words, along with the chocolates they sent: one pouch each of their Chocolate Collection, their Sticky Toffee, their Crispy Hearts, and their Trufflicious (that name needs a noun, I thin), a two sets of their luxury bar assortments. This review is of the Chocolate Collection, which includes a sticky toffee and a honeycomb crisp (just like the crispy hearts, but not honeycomb shaped).

The Chocolate Collection, starting from the white chocolate cup going clockwise and finishing in the center, includes crème brûlée, hazelnut torte, honeycomb crisp, farmhouse ice cream, sticky toffee, lemon meringue pie, chocolat noir, and cookies ‘n’ cream. There was one of each and two of a few (the sticky toffee, the honeycomb crisp, and the chocolat noir, if I remember correctly), and I’m ashamed to say that over the course of a few days, I ate the entire pouch. What can I say; it’s that time of year when final papers are due and final exams are coming up.

crème brûlée - White chocolate shell with granulated sugar sprinkled over a white cap; white chocolate ganache filling and a touch of caramel sitting in the bottom of the shell. I don’t particularly like white chocolate. Still, the cup is a cute design.

hazelnut torte – one of my favorites of the bunch, this one was quite nutty. Like most hazelnut/chocolate combinations, it was sweet, but this one managed to be just shy of overly so. The ganache almost had a slight grain to it from the hazelnuts. I liked the textural difference.

honeycomb crisp – honeycomb and crispies in milk chocolate that was soooo much better than the stale crispy heart I bought in Vegas. The chocolate was creamy and yogurty rather than brittle, and though it was still on the sweet side, the sweetness was more bearable when the chocolate melted heavily on the tongue.

farmhouse ice cream - I also enjoyed this one, a dark chocolate shell around a white ganache. The ganache wasn’t white chocolate (I think). Instead, it tasted like fresh cream.

sticky toffee – the other one that I had originally panned. This time around in a fresh version, the “toffee” caramel was smooth and flowing with a slight butterscotch tinge. No grain and grit here. And again, the sweetness was helped by the proper melt of chocolate (whereas my Vegas ones were pretty brittle).

lemon meringue pie – milk chocolate shell, white chocolate button, bright lemony ganache. Didn’t make too much of an impression on me.

chocolat noir – dark chocolate shell and a lighter, sweeter, and fluffier dark chocolate ganache. I liked the dark chocolate the shell was made of, as it had a nice fruitiness to it. For those who are easing their way into enjoying dark chocolate, this dark chocolate was on the sweet side.

cookies ‘n’ cream – somehow, Lily O’Briens managed to get the a nice bit of cookie crumb grain into this one, a milk chocolate shell surrounding a white chocolate ganache studded with tiny chocolate chips. I was amused that there were actually more chocolate chips in the actual chocolate than in the photo of the chocolate on the box. Usually, it’s the other way around. This tastes overwhelmingly of white chocolate. I think I would have liked it better if it tasted more like the cream of the farm house ice cream.

So, Lily O’Briens, I owe you an apology. Your chocolates are tasty. They’re a little overly sweet for my palate, and the ganache fillings are almost on the greasy side, but I liked them enough to eat them all. Irish people do have good taste in chocolate. Hooray! An OM for the lot as a whole, with an OMG for the hazelnut torte and farmhouse ice cream.

Category: chewy, chocolate, European, nuts, OM, OMG, review, toffee, white chocolate | 2 Comments »

See’s Milk Chocolate with Toffee Nuggets Bar

March 14th, 2008 by Rosa

I adore See’s chocolates. They don’t taste especially rich or indulgent, but they’re solid, delicious chocolates that are quite reasonably priced. If you have the pleasure to visit a See’s store, try their Scotchmallows and Scotch Kisses.

This See’s Milk Chocolate with Toffee Nuggets bar came in a care package for one of the boys who live in the suite that’s next door to mine. Lucky him! It was marked as a fundraiser bar, which makes me glad that I was never forced to sell them back in middle school or high school, as I would have certainly eaten them all.

The bar was made of sweet and creamy See’s milk chocolate with a buttery, cream finish. It was quite sweet without leaving that oh-so-lovely cloying feel in your throat. The toffee nuggets, about the size of a Tart-N-Tiny, are nicely dispersed throughout the bar. The toffee had a light brown sugar touch to the taste, and it had a crumbly texture that won’t get stuck in your molars. A well-deserved OMG.

Category: chocolate, OMG, review, See's, toffee | No Comments »

Mini Froer

February 11th, 2008 by Rosa

My friend Laura spent a semester abroad in Denmark and was kind enough to bring me back a box of Mini Froer by Carletti. Froer is Danish for frog, and Mini Froer are chocolate frog truffles. I love how Harry Potter-ish these guys are. I wonder if J.K. Rowling had visited Denmark before she wrote them into her books.


The mini froer assortment I got had four varieties: cream, mint, orange, and toffee.

The “lys med oragetroffel”, or milk with orange truffle, had a nice orange flavor. It was subtle and zesty (as in orange rind zest, not full of life zest) instead of being sweet and super citrusy or juicy, and I liked that unusual rind taste. The milk chocolate froggy shell was sweet with a slight sourness, and the filling was very soft – just short of flowing. I’d give it an OM.

“Lys med toffee” was milk chocolate with a toffee truffle filling. I think of toffee as the brittle, hard stuff. This toffee was almost like a caramel but without any stickiness. It had a nice, dark complexity, making the toffee flavor my favorite of the bunch. An OM bordering on OMG because the chocolate wasn’t of spectacular quality.

The two dark chocolate truffles were “mork med creme” and “mork med mint”, which the box translated as bitter with cream and bitter with mint. These two contained an opaque white liquid center instead of the ganache-like center of the two milk frogs. The mint flavoring was very mild, while the creme had some sort of weird aftertaste that was almost minty. In fact, I thought the creme was the mint until I tasted the real mint one (which was truly minty) and realized that it was creme after all. I didn’t like these two as much as the milk chocolate versions of the frog because the filling flavor wasn’t exactly pleasant in either case, so they get just an O.

I loved the adorable little frog designs, and the box they came in had a nice flip up lid. You can’t tell from the photo, but the frogs that adorn the lid are actually embossed on there. Still, these appear to be a fairly common candy in Denmark, like something you’d pick up at a drugstore rather than at a boutique, and I think they’re a great little treat for their price range.

Category: caramel, chocolate, European, mint, O, OM, received as gift, review, toffee | No Comments »