Vosges Blood Orange Caramel Bar

You can always count on Vosges to come up with something unique and intriguing. This Blood Orange Caramel Bar boasts hibiscus flowers, blood orange caramel, Campari, and dark chocolate (70% cacao).

This bar was comprised of a thin, chocolate shell filled with a liquid, limpidly oozing caramel. All of the flavorings resided in the caramel rather than in the chocolate.

The chococolate itself was quite fabulous. It had lovely, dusky cocoa notes, like chocolate distilled to its essence. The texture of the chocolate was exquisite as well – the melt was velvety smooth.

I’ve never been big on flower-flavored things, so I was feeling iffy about the hibiscus flowers. Fortunately for my taste, I couldn’t really detect their presence in the caramel.

Instead, the caramel tasted strongly of orange zest. It tasted like orange oil smells. There was a strong bitterness as well, which I attributed to the addition of the Campari.

The caramel had a brightly sweet finish, so sweet that it made my throat burn. For me, that was the only downside to the bar.

Otherwise, it was a nicely complex take on the usual orange and chocolate combination. An OM.

Ryan Gosling – Leading Man and Candy Connoisseur

Via my friend Neil, an invitation to check out this Esquire profile of Ryan Gosling.

Why news of Ryan Gosling on a candy blog? Turns out the dude loves candy! And he has discerning taste, as evident in the below blurb:

“Hi-Chews! Look at these! It’s the candy that never quits on you. This candy is always worth the price. There used to be a candy called Bonkers, which I believe to be the greatest candy of all time.” He pours coffee for both of us, with as much sugar as he can get in, and turns to the register before he continues. A girl stands at one end of the aisle, holding her phone up for a photo of him unaware. “For some reason, they discontinued Bonkers. These are good, you’ll see,” he says, holding up the Hi-Chews.

Hissee Fit Snake Spray – Cherry Chase

This Hissee Fit Snake Spray came, along with a bunch of other candies, as a free sample from the National Confectioners Association. It is definitely not something that I would have picked up on my own.

Spray/liquid candy is a weird genre. It was basically a tube of liquid candy with a little squirting nozzle attachment at the top. Each squirt delivered just a few drops.

My sample was Cherry Chase flavored. The candy blogger’s worry with cherry (and grape) flavored candies is that it will taste of cough syrup. Unfortunately, this fell right into that trap.

To be fair, the spray finished with a brightly sweet finish that wasn’t unpleasant. Still, the bulk of the flavor profile was that of artificial cherry with a horrid medicinal tinge. A “toss the remainder into the trash” –.

More Chocolate and Health Benefits

Big chocolate health news has broken again, and it’s been all over the internets, from the NY Times to Jezebel to the Kitchn: a recently published meta-analysis has shown that eating chocolate is correlated with lower rates of heart disease and strokes, and lowered blood pressure to boot.

As usual with these reports, the health benefits are associated with dark chocolate. And, of course, they come with the “eat more but still in moderation” caveat, so don’t go too overboard! Still, it’s nice to think that my candy blogging habit may not be totally wreaking havoc with my cardiovascular system.

Cranberry Bog Frogs

These Cranberry Bog Frogs have been lurking in my candy stash for a while now. I know I received them as a gift from someone, but alas, I can’t remember who gave them to me. If it was you, thanks!

The box calls them “sweetened dried cranberries and roasted cashews smothered with rich caramel and premium milk chocolate.” They sounded like a New England-y twist on caramel turtles. Perhaps hence the aquatic animal name?

There were three Frogs in my pack. Each was pleasantly starfish-lumpy shaped and decorated with a single dried cranberry. It had a few too many appendages to resemble a frog though – unless it’s the “WARNING! Pollution here!” kind of frog.

The milk chocolate coating was quite nice, with light hints of cocoa and malt. The caramel inside was sweet and creamy with a bit of butteriness. It was just sticky enough to prolong its chew and stuck to my teeth a bit.

The cashews added a bit of crunch, but, as they’re a fairly mild nut, their flavor contribution was minimal. The cranberries were great and added a vibrancy that brightened and highlighted the treat.


I thought these were a great mix of textures and flavors, and the addition of the cranberry was a nice, out of the ordinary twist.

I give them an OM, but with one caveat: there was a $3 price sticker on the box. I don’t think they were $1/Frog good,  but as an “I was traveling to cranberry country and thought of you” gift, you could easily do worse!

Enstrom’s Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee

I received this box of Enstrom’s Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee as a free sample from the manufacturer. Apparently they’ve been making their toffee by hand for over 50 years!

The box’s description called it “the perfect blend of sweet cream butter, pure cane sugar, and California almonds, drenched in creamy milk chocolate and sprinkled with crushed almonds.” The box itself was quite pretty, a cream-colored lid with a deep chocolate-colored bottom.

The toffee came in giant slabs that were a bit unwieldy. It was covered in chocolate that was, in turn, covered in crushed almonds. The almonds were so thoroughly pulverized that they were practically almond dust, so breaking apart the thick slabs was a messy affair.

The toffee was thick – thick enough to have whole almonds fully embedded in it. It cleaved and crumbled cleanly with a pleasant crunch. And, importantly for toffee, it had a minimal “getting-stuck-in-your-molars” aspect.

The toffee was the star here, and it definitely shone. It was buttery and sweet with lovely caramel notes and tasted scorchy, just shy of burnt.

The almonds within the toffee added a wonderful nuttiness; I believe they were toasted to bring out their flavor. The chocolate was mild with a sweet sugar finish and minimal cocoa flavors, while the crushed almonds on top were so finely ground that they didn’t contribute much more nuttiness.

I love a good toffee, especially one that doesn’t leave me trying to discretely pick bits of candy out of my teeth. The flavors and texture were perfect here; my only complaint was that it was a bit messy to parcel out.

I brought this into work to share, and it quickly disappeared. A clear OMG winner.

Learn to count with candy

When I was a kid, my mother used to quiz me with math problems that I had to answer out loud (she was a Tiger Mother before the phenomenon existed). I earned an M&M for every one that I got right.

Now there’s a new board book out that’s got another way to teach kids math: Candy 1-20. I received a free copy from the publisher to peek through.

The book is charming in its simplicity. It depicts the numbers 1 through 20, created with a variety of candy treats, from M&Ms to gummi bears.

It’s a cute learning tool for any budding candy lover. And who knows – maybe you could trick your kids into thinking candy is for learning numbers, not getting sugar high!

Note: above photos courtesy of Chronicle Books.

The Tea Room – Honeybush Caramel

I’d never heard of The Tea Room brand of chocolate bars until I saw a bunch of them at Cost Plus World Market. Having already filled my basket with candies, I restricted myself to the one bar that sounded most appealing to me: Honeybush Caramel.

The bar is described on the box as, “exquisite milk chocolate infused with a honeybush tea of mildly sweet caramel and honey undertones.” The base of the bar was a 38% organic milk chocolate.

The chocolate was soft with no snap. It melted thickly, coating my tongue, and had just a hint of grain that marred its smoothness.

It had the promised caramel notes as well as a slightly tannic edge of tea. The chocolate was sweet, but not too sweet, with orange zest undertones to the finish.

I really enjoyed this bar. It was a well done basic milk chocolate bar with just enough of a twist to make it interesting. An OM.


Katjes YoguBerries

These Katjes YoguBerries were a Cost Plus World Market find. They’re a big gummi maker in Germany, and my bag was in its original German packaging.

They came in three shapes and flavors: a deeply purple blueberry, a pale pink strawberry, and a red raspberry. All were half translucent coloring, half solid creamy yogurt gummi.

I didn’t immediately recognize blueberry as such. At first glance, I thought it was grape or cherry. The fruity portion started with a slightly plasticky edge before giving way to deep red notes.

I didn’t recognize it as blueberry when I ate the colored portion by itself. When mixed with the yogurt portion, however, it tasted just like blueberry yogurt!

Raspberry’s fruity side started off sweetly before giving way to a slight fruity seediness. Unlike some artificial raspberry candies, this seediness was subdued and added genuinely raspberry-like finish to the treat.

Strawberry’s pink portion tasted brightly floral and sweet. It became more intense as the gummi chew went on, ending on a wonderfully jammy note.

The yogurt portions of these gummis were all the same. They tasted almost savory with their dairy notes of creaminess and had an overarching sweetness. The texture of the yogurt gummis had a barely perceptible grit against the tongue, while the fruity portions were perfectly smooth.

The gummis had a nice chew. It was similar to that of Haribo gummi bears but just a shade softer, with a great sproinginess.

I enjoyed the flavors and texture and found these to be far better than the Haribo yogurt gummis I reviewed about a month ago. An OM.