Choxie Key Lime Pie Truffle Bar

Choxie is Target’s house brand of chocolate. While Target purports to sell stylish clothes for less, Choxie promises fancy chocolate for cheap. The back of the box sums up their philosophy nicely: “crafted with the finest and purest ingredients, it’s intended for the most sophisticated of chocolate palates. we suggest you keep it hidden from mere amateurs.” Sorry, Choxie, but you can’t fool me with your fake trendiness and refusal to use capital letters. But I do like the bright and vaguely retro packaging. Great color scheme!

Choxie Key Lime Truffle BarThe key lime pie truffle bar is “key lime-flavored white chocolate and graham biscotti bits enrobed in dark chocolate.” What I got was a way too sweet bar with a strong limey finish. I swear I tasted grains of sugar in the filling along with the scattered chunks of graham cracker.

The graham “biscotti” (I guess that’s fancier-sounding than graham cracker) bits were just crumbs. I think the bar could have benefited from slightly larger bits of the graham to make the texture more interesting and to balance out the sweet white chocolate.

How does Choxie rank against other non-Target chocolate brands then?

The filling was too sugary, and the dark chocolate enrobing was too bland or too weak to balance it out. My bar had bloomed, which was unfortunate, and it gave the chocolate a greasy feel and an unappetizing look (though bloomed chocolate is perfectly safe to eat). The dark chocolate didn’t have a great melt – it was nowhere near as smooth or as creamy as the Dagoba and Theo bars – and the snap was rather weak and brittle.

Choxie Key Lime Truffle Bar

Some of my friends liked the flavor combination (many of them thought it was lemon) but found fault with the texture. Others were not fans of the citrus addition and thought it was too weird. It did fairly well in the taste ratings: 9th place out of 13 with a score 3.17/5, placing it higher than many fancier, more expensive bars. From me, an O. I may have been too hard on Choxie because I was tasting it alongside other, nicer bars, so I haven’t completely written off the brand yet. I’d like to try some of their other truffle bars and see if they can redeem themselves.

Candy Find – Viva Chocolato in Austin, TX

I have a new candy find for when I’m home in Austin! Viva Chocolato, founded by Mark Adams and Nino DeFalcis, is a locally owned high-end chocolate shop that recently opened in The Domain shopping center. In addition to truffles, chocolate bars, and boxed chocolates from all over the world, they also serve gelato, chocolate-covered waffles and crepes, fine wines for truffle pairings, single-origin fondue, and more. I popped in to check out their truffle selection and chatted with Melissa Adams, one of the owners, about Viva Chocolato and its chocolate philosophy. I ended up buying a cup of their gelato, which arrived generously overflowing with creamy chipotle chocolate deliciousness, and the following truffles:

From left to right, they are a Michel Cluizel Renne Champignon (caramel and nougatine), a TexCru Jack Daniels, a Grand Sumatra (dark hazelnut), a Michel Cluizel 99% Marseille Cacaoforte, and what I believe is some sort of Italian tri-layered mocha truffle. I don’t know exactly what the last one is because my fifth truffle was originally a Grand Champagne until my dear friend Cassie accidentally dropped my bag of truffles, broke the champagne one, and slipped one of her own into my bag as a replacement when I wasn’t looking. Wasn’t that sweet of her? As Melissa told me, the only thing better than a good friend is a good friend with chocolate. Truffle reviews will come later.

Believe me, it was hard limiting myself to just five truffles from Viva Chocolato’s huge selection (at $2-3 apiece, they’re a bit of a decadent splurge). On the domestic end, they carry handmade truffles made by a local Austin chocolatier, a Texan chocolatier, and a truffle maker in New York. On the international end, there are handmade truffles from Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and probably more countries that I missed. All of the truffles were carefully selected by the Adams and DeFalcis couples over the course of over a year through weekly taste tests that often lasted until the wee hours of the morning. I could think of worse ways to spend a Saturday night. If you’re not lucky enough to live in or visit Austin, Melissa tells me that they plan to add a mail-order component to the business, so just be patient.

My favorite part of Viva Chocolato was their wholehearted promotion of connecting and bonding over chocolate. The seating in the shop is cute and cozy, and there’s even a semi-private Chocolate Party Pod for, you guessed it, chocolate parties that include a guided chocolate tasting, chocolate pairings with wine or champagne, the aforementioned single-origin fondue, and dessert in the form of a handmade European chocolate truffle torte with coffee and tea. I think my girlfriends and I need to treat ourselves to a chocolate party next year to celebrate our college graduations.

Melissa was incredibly gracious in taking the time to chat with me and show me around Viva Chocolato. Her love of chocolate and the shop that she helped develop was easily apparent in the little details she pointed out (like the cacao pods on the gorgeous glass light fixtures and the custom made clock below) and in the way she spoke of Viva Chocolato’s development from idea to reality. As far as I’m concerned, Viva Chocolato will handily replace the coffeehouses, the cafes, and the gelato place where my friends and I used to gather for our Thanksgiving, winter, and summer break reunions. Clearly, this place deserves a ZOMG!, and I’ll definitely be back every time I’m back in Austin.

(I’m so mad that this picture turned out so fuzzy. I want a clock like that. Except mine would say ZOMG, Candy!, of course.)

Server switch

Dear readers,

As you can see, I’ve changed things up a little here at ZOMG, Candy! I’m now independently hosted, which means I can add ads (har har) and hopefully stop hemorrhaging money on my little candy blog. Please bear with me as I work out the kinks. Posts and comments were imported, but all my post URLs are now different, and my uploaded WordPress photos were not imported, so I have dead links out the wazoo. I ask for your patience and help in finding such broken bits.

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So just click HERE before you do your online shopping, and help make me a less poor candy blogger!


Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Cranberries & Almonds

It’s been a while since I posted a chocolate party review. I’m going to finish up the chocolate party posts next week so I can move on to covering my winter break candy tour. Consider these part of cleaning out my candy backlog.

Endangered Species Chocolate (BUY!) donates 10% of their profits”to help support species, habitat and humanity,” and they use their chocolate bar wrappers to raise awareness about endangered species. Some bars are organic, and I think all are fair trade. My bar was all about the wolf, and it was delicious.

Even though this dark bar boasts a high cacao content of 70 percent, it wasn’t bitter at all. If anything, I’d deem it bittersweet, and I found it surprisingly sweet for dark chocolate. The bar had an exceptional, heavy snap and a great dark finish. The almonds (in tiny pieces) added another smoky component to the bar, which worked nicely. Finally, the bar was visually gorgeous, with a deep, dark, rich color and a lovely gloss.

The bits of cranberry inside the bar were quite noticeable. You can see a piece of one poking out in the photo. They were dried pieces of cranberry, like raisins (or craisins, I guess). Usually the cranberry pieces melded nicely with the dark finish, but every once in a while a chunk of cranberry would be too big, too sweet, and too distracting.

At first I didn’t find this bar to be too exceptional. Sure, it was great dark chocolate, but so what? Yet I found myself reaching for more… and more… and more… It turned out to be quite addictive, enough so to earn a ZOMG! rating from me. Many thanks to my friend Katie for buying it for me. My friends’ ratings placed it 7th with a score of 3.5/5. I should note that the people who liked it really liked it.

My bar was just one of 15 varieties. I can’t wait to taste my way through more.

Candy Backlog #3: Gummy Googly Eyes

Back in October, my residential college had a fall festival. One of the events was Fear Factor, where contestant had to eat Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, a chili lollipop, snot on a stick (really fat pretzel sticks dipped in white chocolate dyed a nauseating shade of green), and gummy body parts, including teeth, tongues, and these, Googly Eyes. The Googly Eye I stole was cherry flavored.

The people on the packaging have some freaky looking eyes. I can see little kids grabbing two of these, sticking them on their faces, and scaring their little brothers and sisters. The packaging also reveals that these are made by the Foreign Candy Company! I have a special fondness for them, as they made the French Bon Bons I used to sell for French Club and National French Honor Society back in high school and middle school. And by sell, I mean I ended up eating half my bag myself and had to buy them myself because they were so deliciously addictive. I miss Bon Bons…

Sadly, the Gummy Googly Eyes were neither delicious nor addictive. In fact, I couldn’t even finish the one I had. The gummy was very soft, which could have been nice, except that it was also rather foamy and spongy. It also tasted bad: lightly, generically sweet, with no cherry that I could taste. The unflavorful taste combined with the terrible mouthfeel of the texture earned this a .

Candy Backlog #2: Gummy Jingle Buddies

I got these adorable Gummy Jingle Buddies from a dining hall at school that had them out for holiday cupcake decorating. They’re billed as “fruit flavored finger puppets” and come in at least four shapes (from what I can tell): penguin, snowman, Rudolph, and Santa. I managed to grab the latter two.

I can’t get over how cute these are! I love the attention to detail, from the stripes on Rudolph’s scarf to Santa’s eyebrows and tongue (though Santa’s eyes are a bit wonky, giving him a rather crazed expression when combined with the stuck out tongue).The delicate details make me wonder if some of the decorating may have been done by hand. The decorative accents are made of sugar and taste like those hard cake decorations you can buy.

The gummy of the Jingle Buddies is super stiff, almost like a hard rubber in texture. You can sort of see the shadow on the bottom of Rudolph where the hole for your finger goes. They do, in fact, make adequate finger puppets because the gummy is so stiff, but that also means that the Jingle Buddies have an unpleasant chew when you eat them. Flavorwise, they’re nice and lightly fruity, but eating them is like chewing on rubber. I’d buy them for decorating holiday treats and gingerbread houses, but they don’t make for great snacking. An O.

Candy Calendars and a Sad Headline

Who knew there were so many chocolate related calendars on the market? Amazon has a bunch as well, though they’re a little harder to sort through.

I bought the chocolate desk calendar. Hopefully I can cull little chocolate tidbits that will come in handy on slow candy news days (like this one!).

In other news, this story caught my eye in my daily newsletter. Here’s the link to the NPR piece. I’ve decided to feign ignorance and trust in my face wash.

Nestle Coffee Crisp

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.

Project Runway and Hersheys!

Holy cow! I managed to miss this one while I was on break – Episode 6 of this current season (Season 4) of Project Runway had an awesome challenge: 5 minutes to grab as much stuff as possible from the Times Square Hershey’s store to make a garment. Just check out the beginning of this clip (if it hasn’t been taken down yet) as the designers run and grab as much candy as possible. They’re living my dream.

Photos can be found on Bravo’s website (make sure you’re on episode 6 in the drop down menu). As of January 3rd, the full episode is currently online here, and I’m about to start watching as soon as I hit publish.

If you can sketch a design using just candy, you could win a 5 lb Hershey’s bar and Project Runway DVDs (challenge 6). Too bad I’m artistically challenged. Then again, it doesn’t look like that many people enter the weekly challenges, so maybe I will take a stab at it. I’ll be sure to post when the entries are in so you can see what’s been submitted, and I’ll let y’all know if I draw a picture made from candy.

Candy Backlog #1: Russell Stover Halloween chocolates

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions (why wait until January 1st to change your life for the better?), but I’ll still take advantage of 2008 to clear out some old candy reviews to make room for all my new ones. These guys are from Halloween (oops), but I think the reviews will still be useful, as Russell Stover will just remold and repackage these for Christmas (trees, nutcrackers), Valentines (hearts), and Easter (eggs).

Orange Marshmallow Pumpkin

When they say orange, they mean orange. The innards are unnaturally brightly orange, almost highlighter-like in its fluorescence. The marshmallow is nice, fluffy, and foamy, the way I think marshmallow in chocolate should be, but it has a weirdly artificial, almost medicinal taste. An O.

Strawberry Cream Pumpkin

Unlike the orange marshmallow and the caramel & marshmallow pumpkins, the outside of this pumpkin was completely smooth instead of being textured. Perhaps it needs the thicker chocolate shell because it contains cream instead of marshmallow. Unfortunate, the milk chocolate shell was too sweet, and Russell Stover chocolate isn’t that great. With such a thick layer of chocolate coating, you can really taste its inferiority.

As you can see, the strawberry cream looks just like marshmallow. It’s light and fluffy but not foamy. Therein lies the dividing line between marshmallow and cream, I guess. Flavorwise, the strawberry was light and unremarkable. Another O.

Peanut Butter Ghost

Again, I’d like to point out how the color orange has come to be associated with peanut butter thanks to Reese’s marketing. The Russell Stover packaging is cute enough, even if I think the chocolate inside looks more like a nun than a ghost.

Usually I don’t like it when peanut butter overwhelms the chocolate it’s accompanying, but it works in this case because, quite frankly, I find Russell Stover chocolate (at least the kind they use to cover their regular cheap eats) to be boring. Consequently, it was great that this bar tasted strongly of peanut butter. The filling was pretty nice and had a super nutty finish. Its texture was quite smooth, without the crumbly grit of the peanut butter you’d find in a Reese’s. I do wish it were a little saltier.

An O, though I liked this one much more than the pumpkins it shares a review page with. I think it would warrant an OM when it’s on sale post-holidays.