Recchiuti Asphalt Jungle Mix

A little over a week ago, I discovered the new eater of my minimal grad student disposable income: A Southern Season. It’s a megalopolis of gourmet goods: fine meats and cheeses and chocolates and pastas and pastries and spices and candy…

I wanted to eat all the things! But all the things were too expensive, so I splurged on a few high end pieces from Recchiuti and Vosges. Today, I’m starting with the high-ending-est of them all: Recchiuti’s Asphalt Jungle Mix, which was a super splurgey $19.99 for a 6 oz box.

Why the crazy profligate spending? I remembered Cybele writing positively about it and David Lebovitz raving about it. Though now that I revisit David Lebovitz’s post, I see that he’s lucky enough to be buddies with Mr. Recchiuti and didn’t have to pay for his mix…

The minimalist box calls them “a riot of burnt caramel hazelnuts & almonds, cherries two ways, and peanut butter pearls.” Let’s break them down, shall we?

Burnt caramel hazelnuts and almonds were chocolate covered and cocoa dusted. Those hazelnuts were awesomely roasty and crunchy and hazelnutty – they tasted incredibly fresh – with a tinge of burnt sugar sweetness to the finish and a overall cocoa sweetness.

Similarly, the almonds were intensely nutty and sharply crunchy. If there was burnt caramel to these, I didn’t notice it, but I still loved the intensity of toasty nuts.

Cherries one way was a cocoa dusted, chocolate-covered candied cherry. It was juicy and slightly moist and chewy, bright and flavorful with a slightly boozy finish. This was my favorite of the bunch, as it positively burst with flavor.

Cherries the other way was a dried cherry covered in dark chocolate. That cherry center brought an amazing flash of fruity sweetness that was slightly tart. It was good, but the other way was better for me.

Finally, peanut butter pearls were really fun. They were little balls of milk chocolate peanut butter with a dark chocolate center that then contained a little ball of crisped rice. A Matroyshka treat!

It started out with a creamy milk chocolate and the texture of the rice crisp, then transitioned to an extreme peanut butter nuttiness that finished with a flash of salt. Peanut butter lovers would love this.

This mix was tasty and delicious. But at $53/lb, I can’t see myself ever buying these again; they’re just too expensive. Though I did love those chocolate candied cherries… An OMG for the candied cherries and an OM for the rest.

Want 100 lbs of Jelly Beans?

The folks at Gimbal’s wanted me to let y’all know about their newest promo: a contest with a grand prize of 100 pounds of their gourmet jelly beans. You have until the end of the month to enter on Facebook.

Can you imagine winning 100 pounds of jelly beans? I bet it would be enough to turn a kiddie pool into a jelly bean pit (a la ball pits). I wonder how many pounds of jelly beans you’d need before you could dive in them, Scrooge McDuck style

And speaking of contests, don’t forgot to enter my gum/gift card giveaway that closes tomorrow!

Endangered Species Organic Health – Dark Chocolate with Goji Berry, Pecans, and Maca

This Spider Monkey Endangered Species bar was part of their Organic Health line. I think the “health” part means that they’re full of those trendy superfruits and things of dubious actual health benefit.

The bar was Dark Chocolate with Goji Berry, Pecans, & Maca. Maca seems to fall pretty squarely in that trendy health claims category. Wikipedia claims it may help gentlemen in the bedroom…

The 70% rainforest alliance certified cocoa had a softer snap than that of the 72% I reviewed on Monday. It smelled lightly and pleasantly fruity.

The chocolate bar’s melt was thick. It was sprinkled through with little white bits of pecan and… stuff.

It started off nice, then brightened and became fruitily sweet, probably thanks to the goji berry. It then took on a medicinal weirdness that was quite artificial and off-putting.

The little embedded bits of stuff added a puffed wheat essence of toastiness, which was nice, and a heavy astringency, which was not so nice.

The finish was extremely bitter and quite astringent. It left a bad taste and feel in my mouth. I didn’t notice any pecan flavors, and I just couldn’t bring myself to try more of the chocolate to try to find them.

I was disappointed. This bar seemed so promising and ended up tasting so awfully medicinal and moisture-sucking. A .

Endangered Species – Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee

Endangered Species is a brand that I’ve had a few times but only properly reviewed once. A sale at Whole Foods prompted me to pick up a couple of bars for review.

Their gimmick is that they give 10% of their profits for animal conservation. As an added plus, their cacao is “100% ethically traded”, which I think is in the spirit of Fair Trade without the full certification.

Each flavor is branded with an endangered animal, and the inside of the wrapper describes the animal and their plight. The Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee was the black rhino.

The beautifully tempered bar was scored into 12 squares, each imprinted with their tree logo. The 72% dark chocolate had a sharp snap and broke pretty cleanly along the breaks.

That chocolate was dry with a smooth, non-creamy melt with no astringency. Its flavor was that of dusky cocoa powder with a light sweetness.

The toffee bits were sprinkled throughout the bar. They were pretty tiny and added a light crunch and little flashes of sweetness.

I didn’t get any buttery toffee notes, but there was a light but noticeable nuttiness from the hazelnuts. I wish the toffee made more of a noticeable impact.

An OM, mostly carried by the great flavor of the chocolate, with a lament about the missed toffee opportunity.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee

These Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffees are packaged and priced like their Tahitian Vanilla Caramels. I somehow missed them when I bought the caramels, but I nabbed them for a taste test on a recent visit.

The bag called them “crunchy toffee and roasted California almonds, covered with premium dark chocolate.” They were shiny panned chocolate spheres with a toffee/brittle center.

The dark chocolate shell was on the thick side and had a great semisweet flavor. Its melt was thick and smooth, and the chocolate itself was lightly sweet with a dusky finish.

The toffee center had a light crunch with a clean break. It was studded with small bits of nutty almonds.

Alone, that toffee center had a strong saltiness that overwhelmed its buttery nuttiness. With the chocolate, however, that saltiness became a great foil for the sweetness of the chocolate.

The chocolate and toffee were both of high quality and went well together, making these a greatly poppable mix of textures and flavors. An OM.

Paul Rudd Talks Candy with Jon Stewart

Via Cybele/Candy Blog’s Twitter comes this fun clip that combines so many of my favorite things: candy (for the masses!), Paul Rudd, and The Daily Show.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Paul Rudd
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

I don’t think Paul Rudd knows that Tart n Tinies have been discontinued. And yes, Jon Stewart, Sky Bars are gross.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate filled with Chocolate Buttercream

Here’s my second (and final. ARG!) review of the Trader Joe’s Belgian chocolate bars, the Dark Chocolate {filled with} Chocolate Buttercream. As with Monday’s review of the milk chocolate and caramel bar, we shall now dispense with the silly {}s.

This bar was also comprised of six attached, filled segments. The dark chocolate was nicely tempered, making for a beautifully shiny bar.

That dark chocolate had a smooth, thick melt and lovely flavors. The cocoa depth was just wonderful and complex with a light sweetness and a hit of berry fruitiness.

For me, that dark chocolate was the highlight of the treat. If I knew who made it, I’d buy it for snacking on its own.

The center buttercream had an unexpectedly unusual texture. It was creamy with a light sugar graininess, but it was also thick and sticky with a cool melt.

Goop is a good descriptor, though I bet that doesn’t move as many bars off the shelf. It also occupied a weird state of matter, as it held its shape on its own but was also quite malleable.

That goop tasted like nicely dark chocolate frosting. It too, had an admirable depth of flavor, though it paled in comparison to the wonderful pure dark chocolate that it came in.

I liked this bar more than its caramel counterpart, though not enough to give it a boost in the ratings. If I had to choose just one to buy, I’d pick this one. An OM.

Trident/Stride Giveaway

I haven’t been a gum chewer since high school (hence the sparseness of gum reviews here), but mayhaps some of you chew and would care about this news?

Trident and Stride are currently running a “Chew for the Loot” promo. Specially marked packs of those gums come with a chance to win $50. The promo also includes a Facebook game that lets you bling out your chewer in your Facebook photo.

For some reason or another, they want to promote their giving away money contest by giving away money here. One randomly selected reader will receive a Trident/Stride gift pack and a $25 gift card to spend on anything.

To enter, leave a comment with what you’d spend a $50 windfall on by 11:59 PM EST on Friday, March 16th. Make sure a valid email address is in the email field, NOT in the actual comment itself. That way only I can see them, and I will only use the winner’s email address for contact info.

Good luck!

Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate filled with Caramel

Trader Joe’s recently introduced a new line of Belgian chocolate bars {filled with} stuff. They made a big splash on my radar because one of them was {filled with} speculoos cookie spread, which is SO MUCH NOMS!, and my Trader Joe’s didn’t carry them and probably never will.

Instead, it carried the other two, caramel and chocolate buttercream. I’ll review the caramel today and save the chocolate buttercream for Wednesday.

I think the full name of this bar is Les Chocolats de Belgique Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate {filled with} Caramel. Why yes, those {} are rather silly. I shall now ignore them.

The chocolate bar was six conjoined segments of caramel-filled milk chocolate. There were a few tiny bubbles in the chocolate, but otherwise the surface looked smooth and matte.

The milk chocolate was solid enough to bite into with a slight snap, and it had a thick and tongue-coating melt. The chocolate alone was quite caramelly with  a dairy creaminess.

The center caramel was positively limpid. It was far too liquid to chew and just melted away on the tongue, leaving behind notes of scorched butter and sweet brown sugar.

One segment of this was delicious, so I broke off a second segment. To corroborate my tasting notes, of course.

The second segment took the sweetness level over the top. What was nice took on a sour, throat-burning tinge.

This is a bar to be savored one segment at a time. An OM if you can stop at just one chunk.