Darrell Lea’s Soft Eating Liquorice

I got these bags of Darrell Lea’s Soft Eating Liquorice as free samples via the manufacturer. According to their PR peeps, they’re Australia’s #1 soft eating liquorice. Wonder if that means there’s such thing as a hard eating liquorice?

They come in four flavors – strawberry, green apple, mango, and original. I told them that I’m afraid of black licorice, so they didn’t send  me the original.

They were way bigger than I expected, about Chapstick-sized. The flavors are all natural, which explains the refreshingly earthy, muted colors.

They were soft, wheaty, and pliable. They were easy to chew but got a tad stuck in the nooks and crannies of my molar.

Strawberry was lovely and sweet, with a round mellow strawberry flavor. I love the purpley-pink color. The ingredients list indicates that it’s colored with black carrot extract. Cool!

Green was neutral colored and just lightly tinged with green. They colored it with spinach extract. It tastes wheatier than the others and veers dangerously close to plasticky territory. The apple flavor is light and just barely there in the finish.

Mango was my favorite. It tasted sweet and peachy with overtones of citrus. Yum!

These are unlike any licorice that I’ve had before. They’ve forever ruined Twizzlers for me (not that I much cared for them in the first place). An O for the green apple and OMs for mango and strawberry.

Trick-or-treating safety/paranoia

Another Halloween-related Candy Professor piece from the Atlantic, this time dissecting the false myth that evil-doers hand out razorblades and poison with their trick-or-treats. It includes the awesome line, “wrappers are like candy condoms.”

My mom used to check my Halloween haul and tossed anything that wasn’t thoroughly sealed. Did your parents do the same? If you are a parent now, did you check your kids’ candy?

J. Emanuel Classic Truffles

This box of J. Emanuel Classic Truffles also came as free samples from J. Emanuel via Chocolate.com.

From left to right, the top row is Marzipan, Mocha, Peppermint, and Gianduja. The bottom row is Paris, Raspberry, Amaretto, and Champagne (which was identical to that of Monday’s wine truffle collection).

Marizpan was dark chocolate contrasted against a dry and crumbly marzipan center. I could feel the bits of almond in it, which makes me think it could have been homemade.

The marzipan was sweet and grainy. It wasn’t as sweet as marzipan can get, but it was still on the sweet side for me. And it had a light residual mintiness from the Peppermint truffle.

Mocha was made of milk chocolate and topped with a little roasted coffee bean. Most of the coffee flavor came from the bean, though if you look closely, you can see little black flecks of bean in the ganache.

The ganache was sweet and tasted of fruit and caramel. As one of my friends put it, it would be great if coffee could taste like this truffle!

Peppermint was a dark chocolate shell cut with a white chocolate slash and filled with a dark chocolate ganache. The filling was mild and understated, sweet with a light freshness. It was like a quietly sophisticated and much-weakened York Peppermint Patty.

Gianduja (below) had a milk chocolate shell with a nutty gianduja (chocolate and hazelnut) filling. The filling was amazingly genuine – I could tell that it was made with real hazelnuts, as it had that hint-of-astringency edge to it. It was definitely a cut above Nutella!

Paris was the ambiguously named one of the lot. Its center was a smooth, fatty, buttery caramel-flavored ganache with a savory finish. Think sophisticated butterscotch.

Raspberry was sprinkled with the red dust of crushed, dehydrated berries. Its ganache had a thick and sticky texture.

This truffle packed a powerfully bright punch of genuine raspberry fruit flavor, like a whole flat of berries concentrated into just one bite. It also had a great tanginess to it, and just a hint of manageable astringency to the finish.

Finally, Amaretto, easily identifiable by its topping of crushed almonds.

I love the taste of Amaretto, especially drizzled over vanilla ice cream. I loved the smell of this – just like uncorking a bottle of the actual liqueur.

Its ganache and flavor was smooth and buttery and tasted of sweet, almond extract. The liqueur was nicely highlighted with the crushed almond bits.

The Amaretto, Raspberry, and Gianduja were the standouts of this bunch. They get OMGs, while the box as a whole is OM-worthy. I really enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed the wine truffles.

J. Emanuel Wine Truffles

I got the chance to try these J. Emanuel (not to be confused with Jay Manuel) wine truffles as free samples from them, via Chocolate.com.

Wine and truffle pairings are pretty common in these foodie fad days, but I think truffles made with wine are a fairly rare treat. These are all made with a 74% dark chocolate shell/ganache base.

The box contained two Biale Zinfandel truffles, one from 2004 and 2005. Each was marked with a squiggly Z.

The 2004 had a thick and pasty ganache. The grapey wine flavor immediately came through – it was sweet and fruity but had a white wine lightness to it. The finish was lovely, with notes of peach.

The 2005 tasted completely different, despite being made from the same brand and grape type. It was darker and boozier, with notes of plum, raisin, and other dark red/purple fruits.

Trefethen (what a mouthful!) Chardonnay 2005 had a sprinkle of salt on top. It had a strong, fresh grape flavor with light alcoholic undertones.

Schramsberg NV Champagne was marked with the imprint of a circle. Its soft ganache was caramel flavored (but not textured; absolutely zero chew to this) and coolly, fattily melted away in my mouth. I didn’t get any champagne flavors, but it was delicious as it was, with lovely, complex burnt sugar flavors.

The Joseph Phelps Syrah 2002, the one with a cross, was my least favorite of the bunch. It had an extremely dry, almost paste-like texture. It had light raisin overtones mixed with woodsy notes.

The finish was strong on booze and almost chalky. A light astringency in the immediate finish built after the chocolate disappeared and became rather unpleasant as time went on.

The Palmaz Cabernet 2004, which had arcs draped across its corners, had a light booziness. I didn’t like it at first – it tasted of dry dustiness – but then a nice bright pop of cherry fruitiness came through and redeemed it.

The Silverado Merlot 2004 was marked with an M, and there were two in the box. After tasting it, I knew why – it was the best one of the bunch!

It had the strongest scent of all the truffles. It first tasted hugely brightly of cherry and strawberry.

Then, the fruitiness deepened before melding into notes of booze with just a hint of salt. Finally, a nice chocolate finish comes through.

I adored the amazing complexity of the Merlot and give it a ZOMG! The assortment as a whole gets an OMG, with only the syrah missing the mark for me. My friends and I loved tasting these and have already discussed who these would be a great gift for (our moms, to start!).

Meiji Meltykiss – Coffee and Black Sesame

These Meiji Meltykiss were picked up on my trip to China. They came in lots of different flavors, but I only picked up two varieties because they were pretty expensive for China (~$5-6 box). I went with coffee and black sesame because they sounded the most delicious and intriguing.

The Meltykisses came in impressive packaging. The outer cardboard box had a perforated flap that opened to turn the box into a serving piece. Conveniently, that flap that could be easily, repeatedly resealed with just a slight touch. Why can’t my cereal boxes do that?

Inside, the Meltykiss cubes were individually wrapped in pretty checkered foil wrappers. Coffee’s wrapper was blue. A strong coffee scent flooded out as soon as I tore the wrapper open.

The coffee Meltykiss was like a little cube-shaped truffle: a tan center with a thin milk chocolate coating. The texture wasn’t as smooth and melty as the name had me imagine. Instead, it had a bit of a grainy crumble when I bit into it before then melting in my mouth.

It tasted mostly of cappuccino/frappuccino – a sweeter, milder take that bypassed the deeper roasted flavors of unadulterated coffee. Still, it was quite tasty, if a bit sweet, with an appropriately bitter finish. An OM.

Black sesame came in a sea green and brown checked wrapper. Its composition was similar to that of the coffee version, only the inside filling was a purply-grey studded with black flecks (below right).

I was initially surprised at how well the milk chocolate went with the nutty, roasty, slightly bitter sesame. Then I remembered Hedonist’s delicious sesame bark, and it all clicked.

I loved how the savory black sesame mingled nuttily with the sweet cocoa. Sesame and chocolate are a stellar combination that should really be featured more often. It gets an OMG.

On the one hand, I regret not buying more boxes and more varieties of Meltykiss. On the other hand, it’s probably good that I don’t have too many of these addictively delicious fatty truffles hanging out in the house.

UHA High Concentrated Milk Candy

Today, I start delving into the substantial stash that I picked up in China. First up is two varieties of UHA high concentrated milk candy. I reviewed the original version way back in October of 2007.

First up, the chocolate version. The front of the bag shows an oozing lozenge-looking thing. The back labels the outside as milk and the inner ooze as chocolate.

The (individually wrapped) candies themselves were actually more like marbles with beveled edges. The hard candy milk portion had lovely cream, dairy, and vanilla high notes. It was like really deliciously fresh vanilla bean ice cream.

The hard candy had a slippery, glossy melt. It was pretty easy to crack and cleaved cleanly, revealing the chocolate center.

While the chocolate on the wrapper looked oozy, the little dollop of chocolate in the center was solid. Its flavor was just meh – like cocoa powder – but it was a nice surprise.

The coconut version had a slightly different texture – it had a softer, satiny mouthfeel. The coconut flavor was immediately noticeable as an airy, fresh nuttiness. Once the outer layer dissolved, the coconut flavor lessened as the creamy milk flavor became more apparent.

It too, has a chocolate center, which was unexpected. My fault, really, as that red ribbon on the front does say that it has a chocolate center (though I could get the gist of that text with some effort, I’m functionally illiterate, so I didn’t take it in at first).

I enjoyed these. They’re a nice departure from the usual fruit-flavored hard candies that we have in the U.S., but I won’t be that crushed when my bags are emptied (partly because I’ve seen the original version in Asian grocery stores in the U.S.). An OM.

Amedei Tasting Squares

I picked up this assortment of Amedei tasting squares while I was in Italy. Even though I bought them in the country where they’re made, they were not cheap. Guess that’s par for the course when you make the world’s most expensive chocolate.

Each tasting square was about an inch and a quarter square and probably about 1/16th of an inch thick. Each was stamped with the word “Amedei” on a diagonal.

The Toscano Brown was a luscious looking light brown milk chocolate. The label promised, “chocolate of supreme finesse with scents of butter and vanilla. Delicate, extremely agreeable flavor.”

It had a smooth, thick melt with a buttery, light hazelnut undertone. Agreeable indeed!

The Toscano Black 63% was supposed to have “intense chocolaty aroma and rich, flowery flavour, with strong overtones of hazelnut.”

Mine had developed the barest hint of bloom, but it still tasted excellent. It had a sharp and snappy break. It tasted earthy and woodsy but lacked any acrid unpleasantness.

And now, the trio of 70% squares: The Toscano Black 70% claimed “fragrance of flowers and tobacco with an elegant flavour.” To me, it tasted deep, yet smooth with a lightly bitter edge. It had a few caramel hints and strong notes of roasted coffee beans.

The Trinidad’s label claimed, “Refined aroma with a pleasant impact on the taste buds,” which isn’t very descriptive. I found it surprisingly sweet and mellow for its cacao percentage, and quite enjoyably so.

The Ecuador (“extremely intense fragrance with a strong scent of cocoa”) was sweet as well, but with more of a woodsy edge. It was my least favorite of the bunch, with an off-putting hint of papery-ness.

The Trinidad and Toscano 70%s were my favorite. The only one that I didn’t care for was the Ecuador. It gets an O, while the rest get OMs!