Random Heide Candies

I picked up these mini-boxes of random Heide candies on Halloween. I wasn’t trick-or-treating; I was party hopping, and these were placed out at Pierson College’s Inferno party. For one of Yale’s wealthier residential colleges, Pierson sure put out lousy candy. Then again, considering how many college students use Halloween as an excuse to drink themselves silly, maybe Pierson was just being prudent with its pennies.

The grape and wild cherry flavors looked pretty different on the boxes, but inside, they were the same shape, just different colors. Why cherries would be bumpy, I don’t know. Maybe they caught some sort of candy pox. And the red raspberry dollars looked nothing like the flat discs on the box. See for yourself (candies arranged in same position as their boxes):

The Heide candies were stiff gummi-ish chews that get stuck in your teeth like whoa. They were like Dots, but worse because they were stickier and because they didn’t taste as good as Dots do.

The cool grape tasted like a mild artificial grape popsicle. Wild cherry was pretty tame – it tasted faintly of artificial cherry and had a weird floral finish. The red raspberry dollars didn’t taste at all like raspberry. All I got was sugary sweetness. It’s rare that I throw away uneaten candy, as I usually share my leftovers with friends, but these guys were too horrible to inflict on others.

Thankfully, I don’t think you can buy these candies in large boxes. They must come in mixes with other candies. If you see them, run away. Or foist them on people you don’t like. Easily a .

Ghirardelli Discount – 25% off selected products

Via Candy Snob, in the month of December, you can save 25% off Ghirardelli chocolate purchased at amazon.com with the coupon code CHOCOGH3. And if you buy them through the above link, I get a tiny percentage back to help defray my hosting/candy purchasing costs.

It seems that their holiday assortment has changed, with chocolate pecan pie replacing cinnamon spiced almond. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; cinnamon spiced almond was, after all, a limited edition.

Merci Chocolate Assortment

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?

Merci Chocolate - outside box

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 chocolate within.

Merci Chocolate - inside box

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.

What are the Merci Chocolate flavors here and how do they taste?

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.

Merci Chocolate - flavors

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.

Merci Chocolate

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.

Snarky Chocolate Reviews from the NY Times

After the Times Dining article on cacao growers and Kallari, article author Jill Santopietro wrote a follow-up taste test of various other organic and fair trade chocolates. She was pretty disaparing and snarky. While I’ve reviewed most of the brands she’s tried (Endangered Species, Chocolove, Green and Black’s, Theo, and Dagoba) , the only bar she reviewed that I ever tasted was the Dagoba Conacado 73%, which I didn’t find especially remarkable.

One wonders what the results would have been had she done her taste test blind…

Guylian Praline bar

I think Guylian truffles gave me my first taste of good, high quality chocolate. A friend’s mother gave me a small box of their seashell truffles when I was in middle school. For a kid who had never had anything nicer than regular candy bars, it was a creamy, hazelnutty, chocolate revelation. I picked up this Guylian Praline bar in England with high hopes. Would it be as good as the more expensive truffle version? Or even better?

Sadly, not so much. Just upon unwrapping the bar, I noticed a quality issue – mine had bloomed a little. That could have been a product of its transatlantic flight, or it could have been sitting on the shelf at Sainsbury’s for too long before I bought it.

I did, however, appreciate the inlaid white and dark chocolate swirled sea shells and sea creatures, which were reminiscent of their truffled counterparts. The bar would have been gorgeous had it retained its original sheen.

The Guylian Praline bar was a belgian chocolate with praline filling. It had a lovely hazelnutty flavor with a sweet but not cloying milk chocolate finish. Sadly, the texture on my bloomed bar was all wrong. There was no melt whatsoever. Instead, the inside of the bar was dry and generally unpleasant. And because we eat with several senses, an off-putting mouthfeel ruined the bar from me.

My bloomed bar gets an O. Still, it deserves the benefit of the doubt – has anyone had a not bloomed bar with a better textural experience?

Lee’s Jaffa Bar

According to Wikipedia, “Jaffas is the registered trademark for a small round sweet consisting of a soft chocolate centre with a hard covering of orange flavoured and coloured confectionery. The name derives from the Jaffa orange. The sweet is part of Australian and New Zealand cultural folklore.”

Until I looked it up, I was more familiar with Jaffa in the form of Jaffa cakes, orange mini cakes dipped in chocolate that I saw in the U.K. My Lee’s Jaffa Bar was bought at a Randall’s in Austin, TX (I also bought a Lee’s Chocolate Mint at the same time), but the wrapper says that it was made in Scotland.

The wrapper describes the bar as “Jaffa Orange Flavoured Fondant Coated in Dark Chocolate.” The “flavoured” is an import indicator, by the way. The orange fondant was dense and almost crumbly. I saw almost because it doesn’t exactly crumble; it disintegrates.

The fondant reeked of super artificial orange flavor. Instead of being lovely, bright, and citrusy, it was overly sweet and floor cleaner-y. The thin dark chocolate coating was completely overwhelmed by the fondant and couldn’t fight back enough to at all mitigate the sweetness of the fondant. Sadly, this bar gets a –.

NYC is full of wonderful candy

To my NYC readers,

I’ll be in the city this Sunday afternoon and evening. One of my friends wants to visit the Met. I want to hit up Economy Candy and possibly visit Bergdorf Goodman for the Vosges tasting (and to check out the 5th Ave window displays; those of you who live in the city should check out the aforelinked NY Times article for more free chocolate opportunities in the city). If we have time/if I can convince my friends to come with, I’ll hit up a few Chocolate Lover’s Tour highlights.

Shoot me an email if you want to try to meet up for a candy excursion. My train won’t get into Grand Central until nearly 2pm, and I can’t promise to be able to leave the Met in time to get to Economy Candy before they close, but we’ll see.

Chow’s 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

Chow’s 2008 Holiday Gift Guide is up. Vosges made the list once again with a $111 exotic truffles and champagne set.

And if that’s out of your price range, never fear. In their budget gift guide, Chow also recommends a $15 ballotin box from Payard that looks scrumptious.

I bought myself the key bottle opener to replace “drink more; recycle more” keychain opener from Yale’s Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership, which I lost when my wallet and keys got stolen. Sadly, that’s no longer made.

Zip Sours – Orange Splash and Black Cherry

I love Altoid’s Sours, and I will eat them until my tongue goes numb. When I saw that Walgreen’s sold a knock-off version called Zip Sours for $1 a tin, about half to a third the cost of Altoid’s Sours, I decided to give them a try. After all, they were cheap, so there wasn’t much to lose.

The Zip Sours came in “black cherry” and “orange splash”. Never mind that one of the halved oranges on the “orange splash” tin looks more like a grapefruit.

I found the Zip Sours to be lacking in both zip and sour. Orange splash had a bright, citrusy flavor and presented a reasonable imitation of Altoid’s Tangerine Sours, just without the sour part. My orange splash sours were also a bit damp, despite the foil seal under the Zip Sour tin lid. I should note, however, that I find the same issue cropping up with Altoid Sours, where the candies tend to stick and clump a bit due to dampness.

Black cherry was less yummy, as it carried a dark, medicinal tinge to it, though at least my black cherry candies were nice and dry, as hard candies should be. Still, flavor-wise, I didn’t care for them.

The Zip Sours tins are slightly smaller than those of the Altoid’s Sours, but I still think you get more candy for your money. I give black cherry an O and orange splash an OM. While they aren’t that sour, the orange splash flavor was nice, and I ate so many of them in a row that my mouth eventually went numb. Apparently there’s some sour there after all; it’s just not that noticeable to the palate.