Week o’ News and Serious Eats Does PB and Chocolate

Today marks the start of my second week out of town for an fMRI training course. I wrote the first week’s (aka last week’s) reviews before I left, thinking that I’d write this week’s posts from Michigan. Turns out that 4+ hours of lecture and ~4 hours of MATLAB programming per day is mentally draining.

So I’m taking the week off of writing reviews. Y’all will get a full week of news posts instead, starting with today!

Serious Eats recently published two peanut butter and chocolate-themed posts. The first is a taste test of how well various Chocolove chocolate bars paired with peanut butter. The second is a recipe for homemade peanut butter cups with a secret ingredient – ground up graham cracker crumbs.

Anyone else craving a Reese’s right now?

Aunt Sally’s Creamy Pralines – Sugar & Spice

My roommate brought home a pack of these Sugar and Spice-flavored version of Aunt Sally’s Creamy Pralines after her trip home to New Orleans. I nabbed one and filed it away in my candy stash, where it promptly got forgotten.

Thankfully, per Roddy’s urging on the ZOMG, Candy! Facebook discussion page, I dug it out and ate it up. And I sent Roddy a box of candy for his trouble (incentive for you to join the Facebook page!).

A praline, in the Southern sense, is a mixture of sugar, nuts, and cream. New Orleans pralines, like mine, feature pecans as the nut of choice.

This sugar & spice flavored praline was intriguing because of the bottle of Tabasco and the Tabasco logos that decorated the packaging. I think it’s the first Tabasco candy I’ve ever come across.

Alas, this praline had seen better days. I think it was a combination of elapsed time and summer heat wave that left it slightly melted, shiny, and droopy. Not exactly appetizing.

Pecans are a relatively soft nut to start; the ones in my praline had softened further, along with the praline itself. I wish I had eaten this while it was fresh. Based on the other pralines I’ve had before, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be crisp.

The praline initially tasted lightly spicy but was mostly sweet and savory. The pecans added their mild but distinct flavor.

The texture was grainy and soft (again, the disclaimer that mine may have softened with time/heat wave). As the sugar grains melted away, a powerfully tingly underlying heat came through.

I don’t think it’s fair of me to review this praline as is because the texture may have changed, so my O rating comes with a grain of salt. I found the spiciness to be unique and interesting enough that I’m glad I tried the praline, but the sweet and savory flavor threw me for a bit of a loop.

Twix Java

I got this Twix Java in my Sweets and Snacks Expo press pack. It’s not a new bar; instead, it’s been on and off the market as a limited edition since at least 2007.

I, unfortunately, had never been lucky enough to catch it in the wild in any of its previous incarnations, so this was my first time trying it. My packaging made no mention of limited-edition-ness. Perhaps that means it’s here to stay?

The wrapper describes it as “chocolate cookies bars; coffee caramel; milk chocolate.” The back of the wrapper proudly proclaims it to be made with Mars’s real chocolate.

It’s like a regular Twix bar, only the cookie is chocolate and the caramel is coffee tinged. If you’re not familiar with Twix, they come in “fingers”, with a bottom layer of cookie and a top layer of caramel, with the whole thing covered in milk chocolate.

The caramel was sticky yet smooth with a candied coffee flavor. It had a beautiful pull.

The coffee flavor was dry and roasty, with burnt caramel and cocoa notes. As the flavor progressed, it got darker. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the coffee flavor.

The chocolate cookie was soft and dry, and it crumbled rather than crunched. The milk chocolate coating was just so-so, sweet without any distinction.

I give this an OM. I wish the cookie were just a tad crunchier, but otherwise, I thought it was a great mix of flavors and textures. In fact, I like it better than regular Twix, as it’s less sweet and more interesting.

Milky Way Simply Caramel Giveaway

Yesterday, I reviewed Mars’s new Milky Way Simply Caramel bar. Today, I’ll give 2 readers a chance to try it out for themselves!

Mars/Milky Way has given me 2 “Simply Caramel Relax and Enjoy” prize packs to give away to ZOMG, Candy! readers. Each prize pack will include a $75 gift certificate to SpaFinder.com for a yoga class or massage and “Enough Simply Caramel Bars to indulge in for a month (5).”

I thought it was amusing that Milky Way considered 5 candy bars to be a month’s supply. On the one hand, 1 bar a week is a healthy, reasonable indulgence, and 5 chocolate bars/person is a generous gift. On the other hand, don’t they want people buying and eating more than that?

So, to enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment about how many full-sized candy bars you would consider to be a month’s supply. Be sure to leave a real email address (seen and used only by me to contact the winners). Deadline for entry is Sunday, August 15 at 9pm EST. I’ll randomly select 2 commenters to win. Good luck!

Milky Way Simply Caramel

The new Milky Way Simply Caramel bar was included as a free sample in my Sweets and Snacks press pack delivery. They officially launched in June of this year as “a decadent blend of Milky Way Bar’s pure smooth caramel covered completely in Mars’ real milk chocolate.”

It’s far easier to launch a new confection under a familiar brand than it is to build a new brand from the ground up. Thus, while the Milky Way Simply Caramel is a pretty significant departure from the original (I would argue that a Milky Way’s defining characteristic is its chocolatey, malty nougat), it makes sense from a marketing standpoint.

While the Milky Way Simply Caramel looked fairly standard on the outside, the inside was an oozy, decadent looking caramel mess. This was not a treat you’d want to give to small children, unless you want them getting caramel everywhere.

The outer shell was made of a snappy chocolate that turned sweet and sour in my mouth. Hooray American mass-produced chocolate!

The caramel inside was sticky, thick, and chewy. It was sweet and bright with a buttery creaminess. I prefer my caramel with dark, complex, scorched sugar flavors, so it wasn’t really my style. I have to admit, though, that it was luxuriously sticky-sweet.

My beef with this bar was basically what I have with most mass-produced checkout aisle/vending machine bars: too sweet and too one note. I prefer the extra malty hit of regular Milky Ways.

Still, it wasn’t bad, and it’s totally harmless unless you’re susceptible to sugar shock. I think I’d like these best in fun size form. An O.

If you’d like to try one of these for yourself, stay tuned! More to come tomorrow…

Other Mini Ritter Sport Round-up – Part II

Today’s review is a continuation of Wednesday’s review of the second set of mini Ritter Sport bars that I bought in Italy.

To recap, the set of seven contained Marzipan, Knusperkeks (butter biscuit), Knusperflakes (cornflakes), Vollmilch 30% Kakao (milk chocolate, 30% cacao), Joghurt (yogurt), Haselnuss (hazelnut), and Nugat (nougat). I’ll be reviewing the final two today.

Haselnuss had tiny bits of hazelnuts sprinkled throughout the milk chocolate squares. They brought a pleasant crunch and nuttiness.

I think the milk chocolate base was the same as the plain 30% bar. It tasted thick and full of caramel notes.

I appreciated that it was nicely sweet without being cloying and was clearly made with good quality ingredients. Still, it wasn’t terribly exciting and not my favorite from the Ritter Sport line, so an O.

Nugat was a soft hazelnut praline. If you look carefully in the below photo, you can just make out the change in color as the praline filling shifts to milk chocolate coating.

Though the difference was visible, it was difficult to discern by mouthfeel. Everything just melted together in my mouth into one deliciously sweet, nutty, thick, and gooey blob. Believe me, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

An OM. I am so jealous of the Germans. Their default chocolate line ranges from pretty good to spectacular.

I’ve now tasted my way through a wide array of Ritter Sport bars, and I’ve yet to find a dud. Guess that means I’ll have to keep trying by eating more Ritter Sports!

Other Mini Ritter Sport Round-up – Part I

Last week, I did a 2-part (I and II) round-up of Schokowurfel, a set of 7 tiny Ritter Sports that I bought in Europe. Today and Friday, I’ll review the second set of somewhat larger mini Ritter Sport chocolates that I purchased on the same trip.

Unlike the single-squared Schokowurfel, these mini Ritter Sports were comprised of four connected squares. Basically, they were a quarter of the size of a regular 16-square Ritter Sport bar.

The set of seven contained Marzipan, Knusperkeks (butter biscuit), Knusperflakes (cornflakes), Vollmilch 30% Kakao (milk chocolate, 30% cacao), Joghurt (yogurt), Haselnuss (hazelnut), and Nugat (nougat).

I’ve already reviewed the first three (hence the above links), so I’m only reviewing the latter four here. Vollmilch and Joghurt today; Haselnuss and Nugat on Friday.

Vollmilch turned out to have a nicely snappy break at the demarcated partitions, which was surprising for a 30% cacao milk chocolate. It had a tongue-coatingly thick melt, which I love in milk chocolate.

The flavor was rich with caramel notes and a sweet fruitiness to the finish. All in all, a solidly enjoyable milk chocolate. O.

I was excited about the Joghurt/yogurt bar. I gorged myself on the intoxicating tang of yogurt gelato while in Italy, and I loved the Milka Joghurt bar.

The Ritter Sport version did not disappoint. It had a soft break, and the sweet and creamy milk chocolate coating enveloped full pods of luscious yogurt filling.

The tangy yogurt was delicious, with a just-shy-of-sour finish, but I felt that it fell short of the Milka Joghurt bar’s exhilaratingly sour filling. Thus, the Ritter Sport version gets “just” an OMG.

Despite the comparatively lower rating, I still loved the bar and wish that it was readily available in the U.S. Can we make that happen? Please?