Flake trio – Dark, Praline, and Dipped

Cadbury Flake is a UK bar that’s chocolate folded in on itself in thin sheets, which adds a textural component that changes the melt and mouthfeel, not unlike how aerated chocolate seems to taste different. It’s also really popular as an ice cream topper. This summer, I saw lots of British people and foreign tourists walking around eating an ice cream cone with a little Cadbury Flake sticking out of the top. I never bothered to try the plain Cadbury Flake, but I did try three of its many variations: the Dipped, the Praline, and the Dark.

The Flake Dark is just a normal Flake but made with dark chocolate (44% to be exact). For dark chocolate, it is way too overly sweet. Unsurprising for a mass made bar but still disappointing. It was also pretty waxy. Still, it did at least taste like cocoa, which is more than can be said for many Hershey’s products these days.

The Flake Praline (below photo) fared somewhat better in my taste test, but it still wasn’t great. As far as I could tell, it was a normal milk chocolate Flake with its base dipped in a praline/hazelnut/chocolate mixture. The Flake texture still comes across, only this time it comes with a tinge of hazelnut flavor and crunch. Still, the thing was overly sweet. I often have that issue with chocolate + hazelnut combinations but usually still manage to enjoy the two together. In the case of the Flake Praline, not so much.

Finally, we have the Flake Dipped, which is a Flake bar dipped in  chocolate. The dipping didn’t do much for the taste or the texture, but it at least contained the Flake crumbles (the previous two were rather messy and shed chocolate bits everywhere). I found the chocolate to be too dry with a sour finish, unusual for U.K. bars.

Overall, I found the Flake line to be pretty disappointing, which is why I never bothered to try the original. If its jazzier versions were bad, the plain milk chocolate version could only be worse. You can also get Flakes in miniature bits as a soft serve topping (at KFC, I think?). I tried them that way and was not impressed. An O for this mediocre trio.

Cadbury Chomp and Fudge

With the weakness of today’s dollar abroad, it’s nice to know that some overseas candies remain affordable. Cadbury’s Chomp and Fudge may be small, but they’re reliably priced right on the wrapper at 15p (about 30 cents). And, as a bonus, they come with built in portion control!

The Chomp is a small flat log of chocolate covering caramel. If I remember correctly, it’s about the size of a Twix finger, just flatter. For some reason, I expected the insides to be a smooth, liquidy caramel, I think because I got used to sticky caramel being described as toffee in the U.K. The caramel inside the Chomp was quite stiff and thick. It was sticky but doesn’t stick to your teeth.

I found the caramel to be meh on flavor. The chocolate was pretty meh too, which surprised me. I vastly prefer Cadbury’s dairy milk to Hershey’s as it has a nice creamy dairy finish to it, but the chocolate on the Chomp just didn’t do anything for me. The whole bar reminded me of a U.S. Milky Way – the texture of the Chomp’s caramel approximates that of the mix of nougat and caramel in a Milky Way. An O for mediocrity, though it’s tiny size and price tag makes it a great impulse purchase.

The Cadbury Fudge has a pretty self explanatory name. It’s chocolate fudge covered in a thin layer of chocolate, also in log form. The chocolate layer was so slight that it was completely overshadowed by the fudge. As for the fudge, it was soft of cocoa flavored but tasted mostly of sugar. I don’t like fudge because I find waaay too sweet, but I was pleasantly surprised that the Cadbury Fudge wasn’t as whomp you over the head sugary as I had expected. It still gets just an O, but it could have been worse.

Cadbury Double Decker

When I asked for UK candy recommendations, Justin suggested that I try the Cadbury Double Decker. I’m glad he did, as it was quite enjoyable. On my first day of “work” in lab, I popped into a post office to buy a notebook. Unlike in the US, UK post offices seem to be personal small businesses, and they’re usually attached to a larger shop. The one on the road where I’m staying was part of a mini-mart/convenience store, so I also grabbed a Double Decker, making it the first candy bar I bought in England.

I apologize for the deflated wrapper picture – I didn’t have any food to bring to my first day of lab since I’d just arrived in the country, and I got hungry and ate part of the bar before I could photograph it as a whole. I had intended to buy a second one, but England has yielded so many new candies and chocolates that I haven’t had a chance to yet.

The wrapper boasts of “milk chocolate with smooth, chewy nougatine and crisp, crunchy cereal filling,” a combination that, as far as I know, doesn’t have a US equivalent. The bar is called a Double Decker because it’s divided in half horizontally, like a double-decker bus. The top half is the nougat, while the bottom half is crisped rice and chocolate. And the whole bar is covered in Cadbury’s milk chocolate.

The nougat was pretty chewy, like the inside of a US Milky Way bar, only without any caramel. To put it another way, it was thicker and stickier than the nougat inside of a 3 Muskateers.  The crisped rice was basically what one would expect from crisped rice and chocolate (a pairing that’s hard to screw up), and with the nougat, it made for a great texture combination. Finally, the Cadbury chocolate made a positive contribution with its creamy dairy notes. So much better than Hershey’s! An OMG for the bar. If you want a British take on the Double Decker, check out Chocablog’s review.

Candy quick hits – gifted edition

A quick round-up of things that I ate and photographed but couldn’t come up with many words for. If the picture takes up more room than the review, it doesn’t warrant a standalone review. These were all gifts from friends who brought (or mailed) me candy from afar, which is why they’re mostly hard/impossible to find.

Israeli something from my friend Monica (update: According to Candy Addict, it’s a Pesek Zman):

Like a prettier, square-r, tastier, and creamier Kit Kat. Amusing because to me, the words on the wrapper look more correct when they’re upside down. I had to spin the wrapped bar around a few times to remember how it should be oriented. An OM

St. Lucia Rum Fudge from friend and former roommate (which is quite different from a roommate and former friend) Jenny:

I don’t know if it was the St. Lucia or the rum part that made it weird, but it was weird. Instead of being sticky/creamy/gritty like regular fudge, this was dry and sugary. It was supposed to be chocolate-flavored, but to me just tasted like sugar. I don’t actually like fudge (way too sweet for my palate), and I, despite dear Jenny’s best intentions, didn’t much care for St. Lucia’s rum fudge, though I bet I’d love St. Lucia, where Jenny got to go for Spring Break. A .

Australian Cadbury Picnic from reader Hannah (who now writes for Sugar Savvy)

Similar to the British version, but minus the sultanas. The strip of caramel was quite hard and only sort of got chewy once you worked it around in your mouth a bit. The peanuts were plentiful and crisp but could have been more roasty and flavorful. All that plus the dry wafer center made this bar much drier than its British counterpart. I have no notes on the chocolate, which meant it, like the bar, was unremarkable, though the plentiful peanuts would make it a hearty snack. An O.

Turkish chocolates from my friend Ben from his suitemate:

The one shaped like a giant Hershey’s kiss had a thin chocolate shell around creamy but not silky ganache with slightly fruity notes. Those sprinkle looking things were made of chocolate as well. Mine had a slight tinge of mustiness (like it had taken on the scent of a paper towel). I will chalk up to storage and transport rather than to the chocolate and thereby give it the benefit of the doubt. But still just an O for unremarkableness.

I really liked the shape of the one that had bits of pistachio all along one side. It would make for good architectural inspiration, doncha think?

The pistachio studded one was a thin chocolate shell around a nutty paste that was soft and quite velvety. I’m assuming the paste was made of pistachio, though it tasted more of pine nuts to me. The filling is heavy on the palate, so I ate the confection over several days, spacing out my bites and nibbles. An OM.

Free Stride Gum

Stride Gum is having a promotion and giving away free packs of gum, if you have the patience to answer a bunch of silly questions. I asked for Always Mandarin.

I heard about this promotion from an internet freebie website. Coincidentally enough, in the same week, Stride Gum contacted me to ask that I help promote some new game they’ve got on their website (and said nothing about the free gum). So if you like playing games, there’s a candy themed one for you at Stride’s main website.

You can read my review of Stride Gum’s Forever Fruit flavor here.

Cadbury Picnic

The Cadbury Picnic is a UK bar composed of milk chocolate with toffee, wafer, peanuts, sultanas, and a crispy cereal centre. You can tell it’s British not only from the spelling of centre but also from the “toffee,” which in British vernacular is actually what we would call caramel. That is, cooked sugar that is still sticky and viscous rather than solid and crunchy.

In case you’re wondering, like I was when I first read the wrapper, sultanas are basically raisins made with a specific grape. Not that it mattered much in the case of this bar. The chocolate that coated it was way too blandly sweet and overpowered all the “Picnic” treats. The toffee/caramel ribbon that sat under the wafers (or was that supposed to be the crispy cereal centre? hard to tell) could barely be tasted, and the peanuts that studded the bar were unroasted, a wasted flavor opportunity.

Overall, the bar was at least texturally interesting. It was a shame that so much went into this bar, so little actually managed to flavor it. A disappointing O.

Cadbury Crunchie

I found the British Cadbury Crunchie (BUY!) at Coco Moka in Houston’s airport.

The wrapper promised “milk chocolate with a golden honeycomb centre,” so I expected that it would be something similar to the Violet Crumble, and I was right. However, I liked the Cadbury Crunchie more. The honeycomb center (or centre) of the Cadbury Crunchie was darker and had a more complex burnt sugar flavor. It was also less styrofoamy than the Violet Crumble, so it was less dry on the tongue.

Despite being better than the Violet Crumble, the Cadbury Crunchie still falls far short of the chocolate/honeycomb perfection attained by the Dark Sponge of Economy Candy because its honeycomb center is that fake foamy thing. My first two bites made me want to give it an OMG, but a third bite put me in sweetness overload, so I demoted its ranking to an OM. Perhaps if I’d tasted the treat sized version (BUY!), I would’ve let it keep that higher rating. Even the nice touch of the decorated bottom couldn’t change the fact that the sweet milk chocolate plus the dense and sweet honeycomb adds up to an overly cloying bar.

Stride Forever Fruit Gum

I personally rather like the ad campaign that Stride (BUY!) has been running. The commercials I’ve seen revolve around the company and those that sell it going out of business because the flavor lasts so long that people don’t need to buy new packs.

The packaging is like that of Dentyne’s soft gum, which makes sense because they’re made by the same company. It’s clever. You can finish the bottom flap’s worth of gum, tear it off, and still reseal the rest of your pack in the top half’s notch.

The Forever Fruit flavor smells delicious – sweet and citrus-y and quite appetizing. If only it tasted as good as it smells! It’s rather generically fruity, and that generic flavor isn’t bad; it’s just nothing to crow about. After a bit, the fruity flavor degrades into a faint artificial sweetness that lasts for a long time. I chewed my way through the movie Superbad, and the flavor made it pretty much the whole way through the movie. That long-lasting flavor, however, isn’t exactly one that’s enjoyable for an extended period of time.

I’d like to try the other flavors of Stride that maybe won’t taste so much of aspartame. It also comes in sweet peppermint, winterblue (which I assume is wintergreen), and spearmint, but alas, no cinnamon yet. For my fruit flavored soft gum needs, I’ll stick to Orbit (I particularly like their raspberry mint).