Sun Cups – Milk Chocolate Caramel Cup

Today, I’m finally wrapping up my coverage of the Sun Cups line. I was introduced to them at Sweets and Snacks and sent home with a bunch of free samples.

On Monday, I covered their sunflower butter cups. Wednesday was the mint cup, and today I’ve saved my favorite for last: the caramel cup.

The caramel cup was the most fragile of my quartet. By the time I got it home, the thin top shell had cracked, letting some of the caramel filling seep out.

That caramel filling was a thin amber golden liquid with a great flow. It had a great texture on my tongue – it felt almost suspended on my taste buds as it melted with a great complex burnt sugar sweetness.

The milk chocolate component was thick and creamy. It tasted darker than I expected. It had a nice cocoa depth and minimal sweetness, making it a good foil for the just-sweet-enough caramel center.

I thought it funny that my favorite candy from a brand built around sunflower butter was actually a chocolate and caramel number. An OMG for this well-balanced oozy-goey-chocolatey number.

Banana Slug Noms

Ugly Overload is the awesome and fascinating antithesis of Cute Overload. Instead of squee-ing over the latest baby animals, you get to marvel at the ugliness that evolution has wrought in many other far less glamorous creatures.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A while ago, they posted some photos of a banana slug lollipop – banana flavored, of course. I’d filed it away in case it came in handy for a new post. And now I finally have a fun way to present it.

Science blog The Last Word on Nothing recently posted a fascinating description of banana slugs’ hermaphroditic mating behavior: sometimes they chew off each other’s penises when they’re done mating.

So if you’ve ever wanted to eat a banana-flavored lollipop version of a phallic-shaped creature that devours its mates’ phalluses, yeah that exists. Yum.

Sun Cups – Dark Chocolate Mint Cup

This Sun Cup Dark Chocolate Mint Cup was another Sun Cups products that I got as a free sample at Sweets and Snacks. Like the sunflower butter cups, they were made from organic ingredients and Rainforest Alliance cocao.

The Mint Cups were dark chocolate filled with a golden brown mint fondant. The golden brown coloring was surprising, but I suppose that’s more natural than the white stuff you get in York Peppermint Patties.

The dark chocolate was lighter than I expected and had a soft, fatty break instead of a sharp snap. I didn’t notice much cocoa flavor from here, as the mint was the dominant flavor.

The mint fondant had a lightly pasty, grainy texture that was nearly solid rather than smooth and flowy. Its peppermint oil flavor was noticeable but not too strong, though it did linger in the finish.

As a more chocolatey and wholesome alternative to York Peppermint Patties, I’d give this an OM. One more Sun Cups product to come on Friday!

German vs American Haribo Bears

I am a horrible person to travel abroad with, as I’m always ducking in grocery and convenience stores to see what’s on the shelves. Learning about the history of cathedrals is fine and dandy, but I feel like I get the best insight into other cultures by learning more about their everyday snacks.

That’s why I loved the post about the international Skittles taste test, and I was fascinated by Serious Eats’s recent detailed head-to-head comparing German and American Haribo bears. The visual contrast in artificial versus natural coloring is really striking.

I actually think I’ve only had European Haribo bears before (hidden in their Starmix), as I associate Haribo bears with stiff and jaw-aching. Turns out the American ones are fairly soft. I guess I’ve been too busy exploring the plethora of gummi bear options in the US candy market (see above) to try out the classic on my home turf.

Sun Cups – Sunflower Butter Milk and Dark

Sweet and Snacks was full of booths promoting different kinds of nut butters. Sunflower butter, technically not even a nut butter, was a new one to me, so of course these Sun Cup Sunflower Butter and chocolate cups were new to me as well.

Turns out, sunflower butter is awesome! I shouldn’t be so surprised – I love chocolate covered sunflower seeds, and these are basically the same stuff in a different configuration. Thanks for the free samples, Sun Cups.

On the surface, the Sun Cups were visually similar to Reese’s iconic peanut butter versions, sharing the fluted edges and little paper bottoms. Once I bit into them, however, I could see how they differed.

The milk chocolate version had a soft, almost chewy texture. The sunflower butter center was creamy and moist, quite similar to the texture of peanut butter right out of the jar.

The sunflower butter had a seedy nuttiness that basically tasted just like sunflower seeds. It paired quite well with the caramel sweetness of the milk chocolate.

The dark chocolate Sun Cup was much more solid. The chocolate portion had a light snappiness with a fatty melt and nice cocoa flavor.

For some reason, the sunflower butter center here was dry, crumbly, grainy instead of moist and creamy. It was reminiscent of the texture of astronaut ice cream in its airiness, just minus the crunch factor that astronaut ice cream has. It also had a more noticeable salty hit to the finish as it melted away.

I really enjoyed this seedier twist on peanut butter cups. As an added bonus, they were organic and made with Rainforest Alliance cocoa. They were a tasty way to shake things up a bit – an OM.

Ritter Amarena Kirsch

This Ritter Sport Amarena Kirsch is a European limited edition summer flavor from last year, apparently. I was lucky enough to get a free sample of one from the Gourmet Grand Dame at Sweets and Snacks.

Kirsch is cherry, and I think Amarena Kirsch is a flavor of ice cream that you can get in Germany.

The filling of this bar was quite pretty, a pale pink cream flecked with deeper red bits of freeze dried cherry. It provided a nice contrast with the chocolate brown.

It’s been hot in NC lately, so my chocolate had gone pretty soft. It melted onto my posterboard during my photoshoot.

Most of the flavor came from the creamy filling. The cherry bits brought a cornflake textured crunch and the finishing flavor of maraschino cherry, while the pink portion tasted of creamy dairy.

This did a great job capturing the flavor of vanilla ice cream with cherries mixed in. I didn’t get much chocolate flavor because the cherries were so powerful, but I think I’m okay with that. After all, cherry’s in the name!

An OM for a flavorful and uniquely flavored treat.

Rummy Bears

In continuing with our theme of news posts about gummies, Serious Eats has a great post about how to make alcohol infused gummi bears.

Being extra awesome, as Serious Eats generally is, they went the extra mile and created gummi bear and booze flavor pairings that totally make sense. Peach gummi + cava = bellini bite!

Imagine what you could do with Albanese’s 12 flavors of gummis! Poppin’ pineapple and ornery orange bears + rum + coconut cream = painkiller gummi.

And my favorite go-to drink, citrus bears + brandy = sidecar bears! I am so making that for a party sometime.

Cinnamon Bun Bites

Is there anyone who’s immune to the smell of Cinnabon? Something about the mix of sugar and cinnamon and heat is so intoxicating! I’ve never let myself succumb to the siren scent of Cinnabon (too many calories from “frat”!), so I was excited to taste these Cinnamon Bun Bites as a less calorie laden alternative.

I got them as a free sample from the Cookie Dough Bites folks at Sweets and Snacks. They were also showing off their Hello Kitty and Care Bear branded boxes of their other treats, but these Cinnamon Bun Bites were too new to warrant the licensed character treatment.

They turned out to be little spherical nuggets of cinnamon scented “dough” that were covered in a white confectionary coating. That coating was a bit greasy, probably thanks to the palm oil that went into it. It tasted sweet and creamy, like icing.

The doughy center carried all of the cinnamon flavor. It started off cinnamon-y and finished with a toastiness that was reminiscent of golden-brown baked goods. The texture reminded me of peanut butter cookie dough, with a soft yet solid pasty graininess.

I enjoyed these in small doses, but their sweetness quickly compounded and became overwhelming. Still, they were a decent approximation of cinnamon bun flavor and texture in a non-perishable bite. An O.

Gummi Bear Combustion

When I was in high school, I did a project testing the 5-second rule by dropping gummi bears on different floor surfaces that I had swabbed with E. coli. For the record, 5 seconds is more than enough time for bacteria transfer to happen.

The following is a way cooler use of gummies and science:

The Bad Astronomer explains what’s going on in that reaction in his blog. Science is cool! And don’t try that at home, probably.

Coco Keeno – Coco Goldrush

I got this box of Coco Keeno as a free sample from their booth at Sweets and Snacks. They were sampling all kinds of chocolate-covered things, and I asked for a box of their Coco Goldrush to take home for review. I thought they were the most delicious and unique of their offerings.

The box describes them as “organic dried goldenberry covered in natural cocoa.” I’d never heard of goldenberries before – I can’t decide if they sound magical or like a juvenile euphemism.

Apparently they’re dried gooseberries, which I’ve had before in England. I remember fresh gooseberries tasting like super tart grapes.

The dried goldenberries were all shriveled up. They sort of looked like giant golden raisins studded with seeds, like raspberries.

They were seedy and chewy and became increasingly tart as I chewed them, and they finished with a slight bitterness. Alone, they were too intensely sour to be enjoyable.

Covered in dark chocolate, however, they found a great flavor foil that balanced them out. The dark chocolate was dry with a light cocoa flavor that tamped down the goldenberry’s tartness.

When all chomped together, these were a uniquely tasty treat. I don’t buy into all the superfood hubbub about them, but I will give them an OM.