Blog Action Day – Water

Today is Blog Action Day, when blogs around the world post on a common topic on the same day. I’ve participated in Blog Action Day since its inception in 2007. Past topics have been the environment, poverty, and climate change.|Start Petition

This year, the topic is water. Hoo boy… That’s a hard one to tie into candy. Water is a great palate cleanser for chocolate tasting?

On a more serious note, nearly a billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. In many nations, women risk being beaten and raped as they journey miles and miles to fetch water for their families. Every week, tens of thousands of children die from drinking unsafe water. All this, in a world where money is spent on pretending that ostriches can skydive?

So what can you do? The Blog Action Day website has links to charities that you can donate to. I highly recommend that you read the book The Big Necessity by Rose George. It’s a serious look at the linked problems of poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water, and it will really change the way that you think about the world. And poop. Slate’s got some excerpts online.

And finally, with regards to an issue that I take personally – stop buying bottled water! If you live in the U.S. or many other Westernized nations, tap water is perfectly safe to drink. And if the idea of tap water gives you the ookies, filters are cheap and easy to use. 17 million barrels of oil are needed to produce the plastic water bottles that the U.S. goes through each year. 86% of those bottles will never get recycled, and even recycling isn’t as good as never using in the first place!

Check out the Story of Stuff for a compelling look at the silliness of bottled water. If you haven’t already, please invest in a reusable bottle; I’ve relied on my Intak for years.

Okay – I’m climbing off my soapbox now, and bringing it back to candy: leave a comment with a neat water fact by next Friday, October 22, midnight EST. I’ll choose my favorite commenter and mail him or her a bunch of Sour Patch Kids. Because I’ve got a lot of Sour Patch Kids lying around, and because they can um… remind you of the sour life that kids around the world lead… because they don’t have access to clean water… or something…

Only U.S. readers are eligible to win because international shipping is expensive, but all are welcome to comment!

Majani Cioccolato Squares

I bought these Majani Cioccolato squares along with their single-origin tasting squares.

Like the tasting squares, I unwrapped and tasted them several months after I bought them. The milk ones looked just fine. The dark chocolate ones had developed a light bloom, but, as with the single-origin squares, they still tasted just great.

The milk chocolates were wrapped in gold and came in Gianduja and Latte. The dark chocolates were wrapped in a deep brown and came in Fondente and Fondente 70%.

Each piece was a thick, nearly cubic square and came stamped with the Majani logo.

We’ll start off with the most basic, which was Latte (milk). It was a solid chunk of creamy, thick milk chocolate. It reminded me of Cadbury Dairy Milk, but with a tad less dairy and a lot more caramel.

Gianduja was a hazelnut/milk praline. It, too, was solid, but its mouthfeel was airier, creamier, and fattier. It tasted fruity, with notes of wine, with a nice hazel-nuttiness.

With the dark chocolates, the thick, solid cubes of chocolate were much stiffer and harder to eat. I worried that I’d broken my front teeth trying to chomp through the Fondente. It was a very fruity dark chocolate with a nice cocoa finish.

The Fondente 70% had a grainy crumbly break, as if fat grains of sugar were mixed in with the chocolate. It had deep cocoa notes with a plain sweetness and a light fruitiness right before its slightly astringent finish.

After I finished it and checked on the wrapper, I noticed the label, “con zucchero di canna”, which I believe means with cane sugar. That explains the graininess!

The Fondente 70% was my favorite, an OMG. The others get OMs and further lamenting that they’re not easily found in the U.S.

Ask Trader Joe’s to Bring Back Black Cocoa Almonds!

I’ve gotten quite a few comments lamenting the loss of Trader Joe’s Black Cocoa Almonds since I posted my rave review. I wish they were still available too!

MK suggested that writing in to corporate could be enough to make them reconsider their decision to discontinue these.

Here’s their online contact form for General Feedback. Drop them a quick note and tell them how you feel!

Majani Gran Cru Tasting Squares

I bought these Majani Gran Cru single-origin tasting squares while I was in Italy. I can’t read Italian, but I can puzzle out that they’re made in Bologna.

It’s been several months since I bought these, so they had developed a light bloom, but they still tasted just fine.

They come in 3 cacao percentages and from 3 origins. The squares are super thin and stamped with the Majani logo.

Belize was a 65% with a dry snap. It has notes of coffee and tobacco, with a bitter finish. While it was nice, I found it too earthy and woodsy for my taste, and it was my least favorite of the bunch. An O.

Ecuador was a 70% with another dry snap. It tasted fruity, with strong notes of raisin and strong cinnamon flavors. An OM.

Sur del Lago was a 75%. It was my favorite of the trio. It had a complex savory flavor that reminded me of custard and red fruits. An OMG. I love complex chocolates that leave me puzzling out their flavors!

Italy isn’t known for its chocolate as some other European countries are, but these bars show that they’re just as worthy of renown. If only they weren’t so expensive and not readily available in the states!

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

After I tried and loved Almond Joy Pieces, I thought it was worth giving the rest of the line-up a try, so I picked up this bag of York Peppermint Patty Pieces.

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

They’re described as peppermint flavored dark chocolate candy in a crunchy shell. They are sugar-shelled lentil candies, approximately M&M sized.

The York Pieces have a jaunty color scheme of pure white and bright navy blue. Like the Almond Joy Pieces, the sugar shell on these is thicker than that of M&Ms.

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

The chocolate within is solid, with a cool and fatty melt – emphasis on the fatty. It feels almost slippery as it melts but lingers as a matte finish on the tongue when it’s gone.

The chocolate has the airy essence of peppermint oil, but the flavor isn’t too heavy-handed, allowing the dark cocoa powder notes of the chocolate to come through.

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

The Conclusion?

I enjoyed them, but they weren’t nearly as tasty or as exciting as the Almond Joy version. When I eat Almond Joy Pieces, I don’t want to stop snacking on them. The York Pieces weren’t so addictive that I couldn’t make my bag last for weeks.

I think they could be fun to bake with. In some homemade take on a Thin Mint, perhaps? I feel these deserve an OM. Since that was the rating that I gave the Almond Joy Pieces, they’re getting upgraded to an OMG.

Cote D’or Banana

This Cote D’or Banana bar was given to me by my friends Katie and A.J. They stopped by Rochester on their way back from a visit to Canada. I think that’s where the bar came from as well.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m terrified of artificial banana flavored things. So this bar was pretty scary.

The bar was chunked into six segments, each filled with a banana fondant and each stamped with their little elephant logo. Alas, mine got a little smooshed in transit, which caused the fondant to get rather oozy.

The banana scent of this bar was quite strong. It smelled just like an overripe banana while avoiding any obvious chemical notes.

All the banana flavor was in the fondant, which tasted like the bar smelled. The fondant was grainy, yet melted instantly when it hit my mouth. The texture was reminiscent of the center of a York Peppermint Patty.

The chocolate was a dark-ish milk that was grainy and sweet with a fruity finish. I couldn’t really get a feel for its flavor because the banana-ness overtook everything.

This bar wasn’t as scary as it could have been. I found the banana flavor to be overwhelming, so it wasn’t for me, but at least the banana flavor tasted like real bananas. An O.

Kit Kat Milk Coffee

This Kit Kat Milk Coffee came courtesy of my roommate’s boyfriend, Steve. I’m not sure how Steve got his hands on it, but I’m so thankful that he thought of sharing it with me!

I can’t read any of the Japanese text on the packaging – if any readers know, feel free to leave a translation in the comments! I think the cherry blossom in the bottom left corner means that it’s a Limited Edition/seasonal flavor.

Like all the Japanese Kit Kats that I’ve had, these came in two individually wrapped sets of two fingers each. More packaging makes it less environmentally friendly, but it does help with portion control.

I probably would’ve eaten my way through all four fingers if they hadn’t come separately packaged (tangent: what a weird sentence out of context). That would’ve been bad, as it would have meant no sharing.

This Kit Kat was made from white chocolate. I’m usually not that big on white chocolate, but this was a pretty tasty white chocolate. It tasted fresh, creamy, and milky.

From the looks and taste of it, the coffee flavor was stashed in the cream that sat within the wafers. It tasted deep and crazy roasty, like a fresh brewed pot of coffee.

There was a light bitterness to coffee, but that only added to the genuine flavor. The coffee taste lingered in the finish, long after the chocolate had melted and the airy, crisp wafers had been crunched away.

I loved this bar, with its great mix of textures and solid coffee flavor. An OMG from me. If you want other takes on it, check out what Jim and Jen had to say!