See’s Assorted Chocolates Week – Day 3

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 isĀ  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.

Candy and Romance

Hey kids, this post is rated PG-13, though in a really tame way. Anywho, you’ve been warned.

Valentine’s Day is this Saturday, which is a big day for candy gift-giving. My boyfriend rightly believes that I have more than enough candy, so I’m just hoping for a back rub rather than any of these guys (I’ve had #3; nothing special taste-wise, though super impressive presentation). Besides, I love the day-after-Valentine’s-Day leftover candy sales, where I can pick out my own Valentine’s themed candy at half off. Hooray!

For those of you who prefer to dub Valentine’s Day “Singles’ Awareness Day,” take heart! According to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, 70% of female survey respondents said they would rather have chocolate than sex.

And for everyone, here are a couple of romantically-named chocolate cocktail recipes:

Chocolate Coffee Kiss

  • 3/4 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 3/4 oz. Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 splash Grand Marnier
  • 1 splash brown creme de cacao
  • 1 1/2 oz. chocolate syrup

Pour liqueurs and syrup with coffee and garnish with shaved chocolate.

Sexual Chocolate

  • 3 parts Bailey’s Irish cream
  • 3 parts Kahlua coffee liqueur
  • 3 parts dark creme de cacao
  • 1/2 part Chambord raspberry liqueur
  • 1 splash milk
  • 1 splash soda water

Shake and pour. (Rosa note – I don’t know how I feel about mixing a splash of milk and a splash of soda in the same cocktail. That sounds not so great…)

See’s Assorted Chocolates Week – Day 2

Today we have the next batch of chocolates out of the free sample box of See’s Assorted Chocolates that I started reviewing on Monday.

First up, their vanilla nut cream, a vanilla buttercream with English walnuts. What makes English walnuts better than walnuts unaffiliated with a specific nation? I suppose that’s a moot point. Anyway, this is a nicely creamy buttercream with tiny bits of walnut sprinkled throughout. The milk chocolate coating is nice, but the filling is just too much sugary overload for me. An O.

See’s marzipan fared much better. I really enjoyed this one. Their guide just describes it as “honey almond paste,” which I suppose just makes it regular marzipan with a touch of honey. It’s enrobed in their bittersweet dark chocolate, which balances nicely with the nutty almond filling, and the whole thing has just a touch of fruity sweetness to the finish. I found it especially refreshing because it was barely sweet, in contrast to the rest of See’s filled chocolates. An OMG, and quite a coup from See’s, as it was far more enjoyable than Charles Chocolate’s much more expensive version, if not as pretty to look at.

The mocha was easily identifiable, as it was covered in chocolate sprinkles, or jimmies, as some like to call them. This is a coffee milk chocolate buttercream, and it definitely packs a punch of coffee flavor. It also packs a punch of sugar sweetness, which was too much for me. I did enjoy the textural contrast provided by the jimmies, at least. An O.

The rum nougat is one of See’s stranger concoctions: English walnuts, rum, cherries, and raisins in nougat. That’s an awful lot to be going on in one piece of candy. The cherries and raisins aren’t really distinguishable in the mix, though they do give the whole thing a noticeable fruitiness. I can definitely taste the rum as an overarching hint of liquor. Between the chewy nougat, the gummy dried fruits, and the softly toothy walnuts, this chocolate was texturally… interesting. Another O.

I adored the caramel with almonds. This chocolate featured whole or sizeable chunks of almonds embedded in caramel, all covered in milk chocolate. The almonds had lovely roasted notes that nicely mitigated the sweetness of the creamy milk chocolate and the buttery caramel. The caramel with almonds had just the right amount of chew to get your jaw going without taking out fillings. An OMG.

The almond square has nearly identical ingredients to the caramel with almonds. Its description, “roasted almonds with caramel,” leaves out the dark chocolate base that the square is dipped into. In the almond square, however, the combination of roasted almonds, caramel, and chocolate doesn’t achieve the same levels of candy nirvana as the caramel with almonds because there’s much less chocolate. In the almond square, the nuts are the focus, and the whole thing gets a bit overly dry. It’s still good, but the caramel with almonds is better. An OM.

Last for today, the walnut square. It was like the almond square, only with English walnuts instead of roasted almonds. Walnuts rank pretty low in my hierarchy of nuts, definitely below almonds, so you can guess what I thought of this – similar to the almond square, but not as good. An O.

Phew. That’s a lot of chocolates for one day. Onward to Friday, where Rosa finishes the box, pretty much.

Taza Chocolate Contest

I’ve never had the pleasure of tasting Taza Chocolate, mostly because I don’t have access to a car while I’m at school, and shipping chocolate can get pretty expensive. I heard about it from my friend Nana, who tried it and loved it so much that she just had to email me about it, so it’s definitely on my list of things to look for next time I can get to a Whole Foods.

Apparently, the company is running an interesting contest through Facebook that both promotes their product and their Facebook presence. From their photo album description:

Two-time Olympian Roald Bradstock, dubbed the “Olympic Picasso”, has become something of a sensation on the internet for throwing household objects over impossibly long distances and then posting the videos to YouTube.

Apparently, he’s something of a chocolate lover, so when we asked him if he’d throw a Taza Chocolate Mexicano disc, he jumped at the chance.

So, how far can Roald throw Taza Chocolate? We want YOU to guess. Send a picture of yourself holding your guess to [email protected] or post it to the Fan Photos section of our Facebook page. The person whose guess is closest without going over will win a free box of tasty Taza treats. And we’ll post video of the throw on our site.

We’ll continue to take entries right up until the day he throws our chocolate. If we get the same guess from two different people, we’ll take the one submitted first, so make sure to check out the other guesses! Oh, and don’t worry if a Taza employee somehow guesses right – we’ll take the next closest guess. Good luck!

No idea how long the contest will run for, so get your guesses in ASAP!

See’s Assorted Chocolates Week – Day 1

Ever since someone brought my family a can of See’s Almond Royal as a hostess gift, See’s Candies has been a Li family favorite. When we were on the West Coast last winter, we made sure to visit at least one See’s store to load up. I’ve also previously reviewed one of their chocolate fundraiser bars when one of the boys next door had a whole case.

When See’s emailed asking if I wanted a free box of their chocolates to review, I of course said yes. A couple of days later, I received an entire pound of their assorted chocolates. Because you can create your own custom mix, either online or in the See’s store, I shall review them piece by piece over the course of this week.

The Dark Chocolate Butter is a chocolate buttercream enrobed in See’s dark chocolate couverture. The buttercream inside is fluffy, sweet, and pretty cocoa-y. Along with the dark chocolate coating, this was overly sweet for my taste, but it was good. An O from me, but most people have a higher tolerance for sweetness than I do, and I can see others enjoying it.

Maple Walnut is a maple buttercream with English walnuts. It reminded me of the chocolate covered maple sugar candy from The Big E that I reviewed a while back, but better, as it was less cloying, and you could still taste the chocolate. The buttercream had a strong maple sugar flavor, and it was on the crumbly side for a buttercream. The crunchy walnuts tempered the sweetness a bit. Another O from me.

The Dark Nougat contains honey nougat, coconut, vanilla, and almonds. The honey nougat was more like a chewy caramel, and I liked the almond crunch. It was like a Snicker’s bar, just with dark chocolate and almonds. I enjoyed the balance of nutty and salty and crunchy and chewy, earning this an OM.

I’m pretty sure the above is a Butterscotch Square, which See’s describes as a “firm brown sugar, vanilla buttercream.” I’m assuming that means a brown sugar and vanilla buttercream? This was a sweet milk chocolate over a brown sugar center. It was throat-burningly sweet, but I actually liked it, for the same reasons that I’ll sneak a few grains of brown sugar by itself while making my morning oatmeal. And I enjoy See’s milk chocolate couverture, which is creamy without being too sweet. An OM for this guy, even though I couldn’t eat more than a bit at a time.

Come back on Wednesday and Friday as we go through the rest of the box!

Dove Promises – Dark Chocolate, Almond Dark Chocolate, Tiramisu, and Blackberry Caramel

About a month ago, I gave two types of Dove chocolates, their Dark Chocolate Promises and their Dark Chocolate Mint Flavored Caramel Promises, a bad review. They were mailed to me as a contest prize, and they showed up bloomed and sub-par. Well, Dove saw my review and asked if I would give them a second chance if they mailed me more chocolates. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me, and as before, I was happy to give the offending chocolate another try. Dove sent me a generous box of samples that included several of their Promises line, and it all arrived in pristine, unbloomed condition.

First up, another shot at their Dark Chocolate Promises. This time, I got a much larger bag that arrived in fine shape. The individually foil-wrapped bite-sized chocolates had a lovely melt that was thick and creamy. It had a dusky finish with slightly dry overtones, making it solid, affordable, and portion-controlled snacking chocolate. An OM.

Dove also sent along a big bag of their Almond Dark Chocolate Promises that were packaged for Valentine’s Day. The Promises were heart shaped and wrapped in gold and pink heart-printed foil, and the messages inside these were more romantically themed than their usual inspirational fare. The pieces of almond inside were tiny, which I appreciated, as it meant they were too small to get stuck in between your teeth. The Dove dark chocolate was the same as in the Dark Chocolate Promise, and it paired nicely with the nutty, roasted almond flavor, earning them an OM.

Dove also sent along their Tiramisu Promises (at my request) and their Blackberry Caramel Promises (a nice surprise, not at my request). As you can see from above, both are square dark chocolates with a gooey caramel inside. The caramel of the Tiramisu had a strong coffee liqueur flavor that was quite tasty, if a tad on the sweet side. An OM.

The caramel of the Blackberry Caramel (possibly packaged for Valentine’s Day? It seems strange that it would always be patterned with hearts) had an overarching bright sweetness to it that tasted a bit seedy and a bit artificial. This wasn’t for me and only gets an O.

Dove’s Promises can’t compete with the high end truffle makers that charge upwards of $50 a pound, but they definitely hold their own against the usual riff-raff that clogs the seasonal aisle of the supermarket around Valentine’s Day. They’re a solid buy and quite worth their pricetag (especially when they’re free).

Chocolate Gadgets

I love kitchen gadgets and can happily spends ages wandering around Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table while lusting after a specialized tool to pit cherries or whatever. Just ask my friends how much I crow over my mellon baller.

Via Cooking Gadgets, here’s a list of 10 chocolate gadgets for me to add to my WANT!!! list. Though the chocolate tempering machine seems like a huge waste of money and space; chocolate can be easily tempered in a microwave.

Necco Sky Bar Candy – an abortive review

I tried. I really, really tried to give the Necco Sky Bar a fair shake of a review. It’s a retro bar and is deliberately marketed as such, with it’s matte-looking wrapper, photos, and font. Nostalgia is about all this guy’s got going for it.

Necco Sky Bar Candy

The bar is billed as “4 flavors in milk chocolate.” It comes in four segments, each imprinted with the word “Necco.” One segment is filled with caramel, another with vanilla, another with peanut, and the final one with fudge. Wait – I take that back. Let’s try that again. One segment is filled with “caramel,” another with “vanilla,” another with “peanut,” and the final one with “fudge.”

Necco Sky Bar Candy

Why the quotation marks?

Because the fillings vaguely tasted like rude approximations of what they were labeled as, but to call them a real caramel or vanilla or fudge or peanut butter would be a travesty. They were nasty goops, all of them. And nasty goop inside poor quality milk chocolate just makes for more nastiness.

I took a small bite out of each of these for the sake of candy blogging science, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat those bites slowly or thoughtfully. I just wanted the nasty swallowed and as far away from my taste buds as possible. So, readers, that is why I have no descriptions for you. All that’s in my tasting notebook is “nasty goo” and a giant scribble.

Necco Sky Bar Candy

Usually I give my tasting leftovers to friends. The Sky Bar I tossed, as I thought it too horrible to inflict upon others. A definite that caused me to hover my mouse over the box that would’ve categorized this as “not candy”. If you don’t believe me, check out fellow Sugar Savvy writer Sylvie’s take. She didn’t hate it as much as I did, but she also found it disappointing.

M&Ms Contest x2: Free M&Ms!

M&Ms just sent me a huge package of their special all green M&Ms for Valentine’s Day. I guess the logic comes from Ms. Green being the only female M&M, so she makes a good jumping off point to brand green the color of love?

Anyways, M&M is running a contest on their website to win a trip to Paris. That contest ends on February 12.

In the meantime, I’m going to run an M&Ms contest as well. I can’t afford to send y’all to Paris, but I will giveaway three 7 oz bags of M&Ms Green Love Message M&Ms, all green M&Ms with the M on one side and conversation heart-style messages on the back, to three lucky readers.

To enter, leave a comment telling me what your favorite conversation heart/M&Ms “love message” is. Contest closes at midnight this Friday, February 6th, so that I can mail the winners their candy ASAP in hopes that it’ll arrive in time for Valentine’s Day. Sorry to my international readers; U.S. addresses only please. And make sure you leave a real email address – only I can see it, and I’ll only use it to contact the winners.

Good luck!