Hedonist Candy Cane Bark

When I left Rochester, NY, I was sad to leave behind a great local chocolatier in Hedonist Artisan Chocolates. Fortunately, when you’re a candy blogger, candy can follow you around in the form of free samples!

Hedonist sent me a bag of their holiday Candy Cane Bark, along with some holiday truffles (previously reviewed here), salted caramels (review to come on Friday), and drinking chocolate (review TBA; it’s still too warm in North Carolina for hot chocolate).

The Candy Cane Bark was made of “shards of semi-sweet chocolate (55%) swirled with white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.” It was festively pretty to behold, with the swirl of semi-sweet and white chocolate evoking the candy cane’s red and white twist.

The bark was thin, no more than a centimeter at its thickest and thinner in some slabs. That made it easy to break apart with a sharp snap.

I didn’t find the candy cane’s mintiness apparent in the scent, but its flavor was lightly present in the finish of the bar. The crushed candy cane bits added just the right hint of airy mintiness to meld perfectly with the smooth, dusky pure cocoa flavor of the chocolate.

The white chocolate swirl added just a hint of vanilla and a slight fatty overtone. The cool melt of the chocolate mixed with the slight grittiness of the candy cane bits, which dissolved quickly.

Hedonist excels in its ability to find a great balance in its flavors. It would have been easy for the peppermint to get heavy handed in a treat like this, but Hedonist treated the mint with restraint and really used it to bring out the best of the chocolate and the mint. An OM.


Public Displays of Confection – Thanksgiving Mix

Public Displays of Confection sent me an assortment of samples of their artisanal, handmade hard candies. They use old school techniques on machines that are over a century old; you can check out a video here.

The Thanksgiving Mix contains a seasonally appropriate mix of flavors: pumpkin pie, peach cobler, cranberry sauce, apple cider, and sweet potato casserole. They’re image candies, made from folding and pulling candy into a long tube and slicing it into pieces to reveal the center picture.

The centers of the candies left little air tubules as they melted, like starlight peppermints do. The outer shells melted smoothly and felt like perfectly smooth plastic under my tongue.

The pumpkin pie was the easiest to pick out, as it had a pretty pumpkin in the center. It really captured the savory aroma of cooked pumpkin with a pumpkin pie’s notes of nutmeg.

Peach cobbler had a bright orange shell and a layered square of peachy-striped colors. It was sweet and lightly fruity with a hint of cinnamon. The overtones were bright, and the candy tasted positively juicy.

Cranberry sauce had a pinkish red center with the image of a trio of red cranberries and something blue and white (any guesses on what it’s supposed to be?). It captured the tannic essence of cranberry juice, with the perfect touch of tartness to take the edge off the candy’s sweetness.

Apple cider had a little red apple in the center and a green and red shell. It tasted sweet and brightly full of apple juice flavor. I found it lightly tart with maybe just a hint of cinnamon to the finish. I appreciated that this tasted of genuine apple rather than the candied version that Jolly Rancher has codified.

Finally, sweet potato casserole had an orange and blue shell with a little stamp of a yam in the center. It had the spot on taste of sweet potato with a butterscotchy finish. While there was no denying what it was emulating, I found the savory and sweet combination in a hard candy to be strange.

I was impressed by how spot-on the flavors were. The sweet ones – peach cobbler, cranberry sauce, and apple cider – get OMs. The savory ones – pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole – were a bit strange to consume as hard candies, so they get Os.


Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels

Cybele reviewed Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels about a year ago, which first put them on my radar. The little bag nearly escaped my notice in the store. It was near the checkout counters in impulse buy territory.

The caramels were beautiful round balls with a captivatingly glossy sheen. That outer coating quickly melted away when I held the caramel in my mouth, but I much preferred to bite into them.

When I bit into it, the outer shell yielded easily with a soft crunch as it splintered, then melted smoothly. The inner caramel was initially soft and then quickly became chewy.

The caramel and chocolate were amazing. The chocolate had a great cocoa depth with a lovely, dusky finish, and the caramel had a smooth butteriness with some light rum notes and a butterscotch finish.

The combination of the two was absolutely stellar, a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. The sticky caramel mixed well with the smooth chocolate, and the dusky cocoa flavors played off the buttery caramel.

I loved the complexity of this treat – far better than Milk Duds – and can’t wait to pick up another bag. An OMG.

Turn Halloween Leftovers Into Science

Via my friend Davis comes this fun idea for a science experiment from Scientific American. It can teach your kids (or you!) about the power of evaporation by using some water to keep a chocolate bar cool, and you get to eat your results.

The experiment is especially perfect for this time of year, as you need two identical bars in their wrappers. I hope you’ve still got some leftover fun-sized bars from trick or treating! If you’ve eaten them all by now, you may have a future as a candy blogger yourself.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Edamame

I’ve seen Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Edamame on their shelves for a while but had never been brave enough to give them a try. Chocolate and edamame just didn’t sound like a good combination to me.

I finally picked up a tub over the weekend. Something about the bright green tub that made it hard to resist, I guess.

The chocolate was thin and sharply snappy on its own. It had a nice cocoa depth to it, with a dusky finish. I think it’s the same dark chocolate that goes into their other chocolate-covered things in tubs.

The edamame was lightly salted. It still had its thin, papery shell, which I thought should have been removed. After all, they don’t leave the peanut skin on their chocolate covered peanuts.

The bright green bean crumbled when I bit into it and ended in a rather unpleasant grittiness. When chewed with the chocolate, the grittiness was somewhat masked by the chocolate’s texture.

I appreciated the mix of salty and sweet here, but I wasn’t a fan of the texture. They get an O. I’ll be letting my boyfriend finish the tub, as he loved them.

Kids, I ate all your Halloween candy

Via my friend Alisha via Twitter (I’m on Twitter now, by the way!), here are some reaction shots of kids after their parents tell them that they ate all their Halloween candy. Jimmy Kimmel, you made so many kids cry!

My favorite are the two brothers at the end, starting about 2:45 in. The older one has so much attitude, yet is so encouraging to his little sib! And the little one had a great delayed reaction in response to Mom declaring that she ate all the peanut butter cups.

Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Covered Toffee Popcorn

Over the weekend, I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on pumpkin butter. While there, I couldn’t help nabbing some of their store brand candies. This week will be a week of Trader Joe’s reviews, starting with their Milk Chocolate Covered Toffee Popcorn.

The fat nuggets of popcorn looked so tantalizing, tumbling out of the bag with their slight sheen. Their outer coating was a thin layer of milk chocolate. Beneath that was a thin layer of toffee glaze, and then the fattest, fluffiest popcorn I’ve ever seen.

I wonder if Trader Joe’s is starting with some seriously genetically modified corn or something. Every piece was nearly all lovely puffy popped part and barely any noticeable gets-stuck-in-your-teeth kernel part.

The milk chocolate was malty and sugary sweet. The toffee added a bit of crunch and a light buttery scorchiness, and the popcorn fluffiness capped it all off as a light, neutral foil.

This treat was a great synthesis of flavors and textures. Chocolate-covered popcorn style treats tend to be pricy (looking at you, Moose Munch), but this was only $2.99 for the 8 oz bag. Sold!

My only complaint is that it got a tad too sweet in the finish after a few pieces in a row so it gets a slight downgrade for that. An OM.

Javaz Dark

Here’s the second of the two bags of Javaz that I found at Cost Plus World Market. I reviewed the milk ones on Wednesday, and today’s review is of the dark version.

As I noted on Wednesday, Javaz are chocolate covered coffee beans that are then covered with a shiny sugar shell. The milk ones were lovely, and the dark ones even more so.

With their deep obsidian shells lightly flecked with bits of white, they could be little marble pebbles. Just check out that lovely sheen!

Thankfully, they’re much more edible than actual pebbles. The dark chocolate was a bit stiffer than the softer milk chocolate. Otherwise, the textural combination of sugar shell crunch and coffee grit was similar to that of the milk Javaz.

The chocolate had a lightly sweet fruitiness in its body and a slightly smokiness to the finish. I think the deepness of the chocolate made for a better foil for the bitterness of the beans.

Each complimented the other, so that the bitter astringency of the coffee was reduced and the fruitiness of the chocolate was amped up. For me, this was an addictive combination. An OMG.